I first met Dave when he lost his wife. She was buried at All Souls Cemetery, and after her burial Dave approached me to ask if he could assist the cemetery in caring for its ponds. Since then, we’ve kept in touch. This past week, he called to ask permission to see if there were any spotted turtles within the cemetery. Before we said our goodbyes, Dave asked if I had a few more minutes to talk.
He started to tell me about his 70th birthday that happened a few weeks prior. Dave went to visit his wife at the cemetery. As he sat by her gravesite, he knew the only person who would have made his day special was gone from this world. Loneliness washed over him. The couple never had children, and he felt that no one else seemed to care enough to even wish him a happy birthday.
Dave is someone with an extremely kind soul. It broke my heart as I listened to this story. However, he continued.
He said he spent a few more minutes visiting his wife, telling her how much he loved and missed her, then went home still saddened by the day.
One week later, Dave was back at All Souls Cemetery to visit his wife. This time, he decided to spend some time at the pond to check on the fish he had recently placed there. As he sat, he could see something in the distance being carried by the wind. It looked like a balloon decoration from somewhere in the cemetery. The balloon kept coming closer until it landed by his feet.
When he looked down at the balloon, he couldn’t believe what he saw. A balloon had travelled across the cemetery at the very moment that he was sitting at the edge of the cemetery pond and on it was written “Happy Birthday”.
With tears in his eyes, Dave looked up and said a silent thank you to his wife who undoubtedly had sent him a “Happy Birthday” from Heaven.
Dave’s story reminds me of the connection that continually exists between us, our loved ones, and God. I hope his story can provide some hope to anyone missing someone they love.
– Andrej Lah
Director, The Catholic Cemeteries Association