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From a Glance to First Visit

Caleb Andrew Dubas was laid to rest at a small cemetery at Salem Bible Church in Macungie, PA and is also where we are church members. We decided on Salem cemetery because in a way, we wanted Caleb close. Being a young family we honestly never thought of where we might want to be buried or what if something happened to one of our children. So when deciding, it just felt right to bury Caleb as Salem.

I think the hardest part for me is coming to church each week and seeing the cemetery as we approach or when dropping the kids off for Sunday school at the youth building which sits directly across from the cemetery. Typically I just glance and turn my head as not to ponder too long or to reflect too long as to avoid extra suffering. Though there are times I want to see and I want to visit or I might liken the feeling to when one drives down the highway and there is an accident so many people slow down to turn their heads to look. Part of me wants to look and another part does not.  It’s this dance I do with reality each and every week.

We are still waiting on Caleb’s monument to be completed and in my mind I wanted to wait to visit until the stone was in place to also give myself some time. I already deal with enough and I find my approach guarded as not to allow too much suffering at any one time. I’ts been a long time coming and after many glances and flat out stares from a distance, I finally felt drawn to Caleb’s grave side.

I was not having the best morning at home with Tiffany so I left for some solitude. Some time to reflect and to perhaps grab something to eat. I drove to the Boyertown McDonald’s and for some hot cakes and sausage. I don’t normally eat that stuff but was feeling like I needed some comfort food and McDonald’s hot cakes for some reason fit the bill. While there eating in the parking lot, I started thinking about Caleb and for whatever reason thought, “You know what, it’s Saturday and a little misty rainy out I’m sure no one will be at the church so maybe now would be a good time to visit.”

My assumptions were proven correct as I arrived and the parking lot was empty. I pulled into park in front of the cemetery gate where I sat for a few minutes to look around from the safety of my car. The windshield had rain on it and I could barely see out so I engaged the wiper motor and blades just once so I could see to the end of the cemetery where Caleb is laid to rest. I was a little concerned about my timing because of the light misty rain that was not forecast. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the neighbor through the woods on his mowing tractor. I guess I was hoping for total solitude and started to question if I would be getting out of the car or not.

Mustering some inner strength and not knowing what might happen if I made the next step, I turned the engine off and exited the car while glancing an eye on my surroundings (hoping I’d be alone) and most importantly an eye down the main cemetery isle where Caleb’s resting spot is. When I put my hand on the cold wet cemetery fence to unlatch the chain link gate and open the door was when I knew there was no turning back and I was fully committed to my mission. I took care to latch the gate behind me and slowly turned towards Caleb’s spot and started a slow approach with misty rain landing on my face.

As I slowly walked down the isle, my eyes took in the other grave markers and also fresh grave sites recently dug. I also saw a very large tree stump that I never noticed before off the main isle. About halfway to my goal my eyes trained forward to Caleb’s grave. I looked down once more to see my shoes already damp from the wet grass (Like walking through morning dew). I could start to feel my emotions welling up when I got to about 40 feet away. My soul welled up and my eyes began to overflow.

As I approached I could see the soil where Caleb had been laid to rest had begun to settle and I could begin to read the grave marker with Caleb’s full name,  birth, and death year listed. I could also see that someone brought Caleb flowers and a Happy Birthday flag. I knelt down and as I started to bow my head two sorrow soaked tears fell from each eye and as if in slow motion I watched the tears fall and collide with the already rain wet soil that covers Caleb’s small casket. They instantly disappeared as they met the earth. I couldn’t help but wonder if he can see me from heaven or if that tear caught his attention because for me, the emotion in each tear was enough to trigger an earthquake on impact or at least I felt that way. I did not end up staying long as the rain became more steady though I think this was good start for me. A start. From a glance to a visit.

The grass is beginning to grow again on the earth where he lays. I’m not sure who placed the birthday flag and flowers but obviously this little boy touched more than our family and I am glad someone showed him that respect.

I miss Caleb and once we move I’m not sure how often I will be able to visit and pay my respects. My only prayer now is that his memorial stone is finished in all its glory so I can see it before we move to Colorado at the end of June. I am still pushing on and looking up and processing the loss of my youngest child. God alone sustains me. God’s will not mine be done.

Author: Andrew Dubas

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1 Comment

  • Reply Robert McGoldrick May 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing. And, thank you for meeting me in Austin. It has been too many years. When Caleb left, I wanted to call. I wasn’t sure what I’d say. How could I understand what you were going through? I wanted to be there for you but, I didn’t want to be part of the certain overwhelming wave of phone calls forcing you to repeat the events and emotions. I’m not sure there is anything I could have said.
    Thank you for sharing in this blog. It has been a window into the life of Caleb and his family, especially his father.

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