Today being memorial day, I took the opportunity in the evening to drive out to San Dimas (or rather Covina Hills) to visit my younger brother's grave at the Forest Lawn cemetery/mortuary. I honestly do not remember my little brother at all--after all, I was only two years old when he was born and he died on the third day of his life. Nevertheless, according to my knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I know that one day I will have the opportunity to meet him. Anyhow, when I arrived at his grave I discovered fresh flowers in a vase upon his gravestone. My parents had already arrived earlier in the day. It is a tradition for my parents to cut flowers from their own garden in order to create a bouquet to place upon his grave.
It gave me opportunity to really evaluate my own life as I thought upon what my brother might be doing on the other side of mortality. I also had a profound sense of gratitude for the atonement of Jesus Christ which makes it possible for all of us to be resurrected--to live again with a perfect body in the life to come.
I should like to include a poem that I had written some time ago when visiting my brother's grave. It is titled "Upon My Brother's Grave" and is in honor of Marc Jeffery Hall (July 20, 1976-July 23, 1976):
There is a quiet hill where thousands sleep
Beneath the grassy waves tossed by the wind,
Where peaceful moments rest in hearts and minds,
Where people rest beneath the azure sky.
There have been days when distant thoughts have fled
And somber reminiscents take their place,
And I, within the valley, turn to look
Upon that green hill, not so far away.
I've glanced upon the beauty of the life
That springs in great abundance from its height
And thought upon my brother and his life
In realms where mortals only dream to dwell.
I've driven, on occasion, to this hill,
And stood, betimes, beside the road where lies
The headstone, and the body there beneath,
Of my dear brother Marc--an infant death.
At times, when young, my parents stood nearby,
And I would watch them with their loving hands,
Place the fresh flowers, from the garden plucked,
Upon the earth in loving memory.
I'd wandered on this hill once unannounced,
Long after all my youthful years were spent,
In search of that dear spot, for what it meant
To my own heart throughout the passing years.
I had not found the spot that summer day,
But gloried in the grand serenity
Upon the grassy hill, beside the trees,
Beneath the clouded sky, within the breeze.
A thousand dead, and my poor memory
Could not recall the spot where in my youth
I held my parents' hands and watched them weep--
I held my parents' hands and watched them smile.
I wandered lonely on that silent hill
Viewing the sculptures and the distant church,
Reading the names and dates of other souls
Who passed breathless silence through the gates,
And pondered briefly on their mortal lives,
I dreaming of the way they might have lived.
Today I have returned to pay respect
And find myself upon this hill alone
With flowers in a jar within my hand
Which I have plucked from the garden of old.
I place them just above the metal plaque
And stare upon my brother's written name,
Then glance upon this glorious of scenes
And ponder on his life and there reflect:
To understand as he would understand.
To view this world with eyes abstained from sin.
To live my life as he would have me live,
Free from the guilt with which I wallow in.
To view my hand, corrupt in mortal spite.
To view his hand long withered in the earth.
To love mankind as he would surely love,
Had more he lived than three days from his birth.
I think upon the life he did not live.
The memories of youth in loving arms--
The blessings of a faithful family.
The pain of suffering a woman's charms.
The joy of simple pleasures in the sun.
The dreams and longings of a youthful mind.
The rapture found within a first love's kiss.
The gratitude that comes with being kind.
He may have been a poet well renowned.
He may have been an artist well revered.
He may have been the dream of all our dreams.
He may have been. . . he may have been. . .
And now his body buried in the grave
And I having been buried in my life,
Live less insightful in daily routines.
Perhaps his spirit watches me this day.
Perhaps he feels my life wasted away.
Perhaps he has a hope unparalleled--
The hope the unseen world keeps in its soul
While we upon this busy mortal plane
Blind all our knowledge with such useless cares,
Living our mortal life yet unaware.
Upon my brother's grave I now reflect
And listen for a whisper to my soul.