The cemetery where he is buried is next to the church where we were married, and down the street from the family farm. It's about an hour outside of town. We all headed out there on Saturday for lunch, an Easter egg hunt, rides on Uncle Derek's four-wheeler, and a trip to visit Daniel. The cemetery trip was the last part of the day, and almost everyone wanted to go. I piled into my car with Grayson and four of his cousins (three little ones 5 and under, and one big 13 year old - thanks to Garett for his help with the little ones!). We arrived at the cemetery before anyone else and walked to Daddy/Uncle Daniel's grave.
Over the years, quite a collection of "offerings" have been left at his grave. Washers, fishing lures, various crosses, and little carvings with poems on them. As I started pulling weeds on Daniel's grave, the cousins and Grayson did an inventory of the bits and pieces. Genevieve (5), picked up a small pewter book with a poem carved on it, and began to read it aloud. Her tiny voice cut the silence of the cemetery and her slow and deliberate reading made each word stand out clearly. The poem has always pulled at my heartstrings - it was left there by two nephews and a niece shortly after Daniel died - but hearing it read by the sweet voice of my niece pierced my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
When she finished, my nephew Jackson told us he loved the story and asked Grayson to read it to him again. I can't even describe how sweet the scene was, and how lovely the words were as Grayson read them. I was so sad for him, and so proud of him as he read the story and thought about the meaning. When the others arrived, Genevieve asked if she could read it again and there wasn't a grown-up dry eye in the place when she was done.
We spent the next 20 minutes pulling weeds and chatting, the little ones picking flowers and walking around the graves. As odd as it sounds, it felt so natural. Although it isn't a gift I wanted to give them, our little ones have experienced the tragedy of death and are learning that it is a part of life. They are learning that life goes on, but they are also learning that gone does not mean forgotten.
You are definitely not forgotten Daniel Dippel. You were and always will be well loved. We miss you.