Arlington Cemetery: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Yet a Soldier’s Sacrifice is Worth a Million Hearts


 

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War,

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War,

 

My dad and his friend from Korea.  This man called me shortly after my father died.

My dad and his friend from Korea. This man called me shortly after my father died.

dad on ship in white tshirt

My father had a poet's eye.  I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

My father had a poet’s eye. I believe he took these photos on leave during the Korean War.

Because of his service to his country, my father, John S. Miller, Sergeant United States Marine Corps — he is now buried with my mother, Elizabeth Anne Miller at Arlington National Cemetery. There are no words for the intensity and beauty of Arlington National Cemetery —  beautiful in the essence of sacrifice and honor.SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

 

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Garden Muse: Seeds and Sorrow; Fruits and Joy


Garden

Garden

I am excited for summer. I love the bounty of summer crops. Right now we are growing radishes, spinach, lettuce, corn, carrots, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkins, potatoes, oregano, basal, zucchini, and peas. I have a flower garden growing as well. We planted everything from seed so it is exciting to see it come to life. Trusting in a seed to feed you is a leap of faith. It provides me with such a sense of peace to know that I am capable of growing my own food. We had a salad tonight which had spinach, salad greens, and radishes from our garden.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Radish

Radish

“Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

My mother and father were avid gardeners. If you look at this photo closely, you will see just a glimpse of the garden of my childhood home. I am the child to the far right on the edge of the pool. If you walk around the pool to the left, you would find a vegetable plot filled with raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, plum trees, apple trees, grape vines, boysenberry trees, vegetables, and many other flowers and garden goodies. In fact, my father made us dandelion soup once. My mother got mad at him for serving it to us as kids. It is very good for you.

Refresh -- Childhood Garden

Refresh — Childhood Garden

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

Hope. Wish. Dream. Be.

“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” – Alice Walker

Beauty Bee -- Blackberry Bush

Beauty Bee — Blackberry Bush

I found out recently that my mother’s funeral will finally be scheduled. We have been waiting in limbo since January. She passed away on Christmas Eve (Read this if you want to know the details). I have had a hard time with this loss.  I will have to allow myself to feel it. It is a different kind of pain now, as it is obtuse, reaching its giant ocean size arms around me as if orbiting into space. The pain was acute in the beginning when she first passed away. Each acknowledgement of it was an arrow in my heart, made of thousands of acute angles — stabbed straight into my heart. Now the tiny arrows have opened into a more giant obtuse pain, something that expands and retracts — expands and retracts — expands and retracts.

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend's house.

This photo was taken in 2003 on Christmas Eve. My father passed away in December of 2003. This photo was taken at my best friend’s house.

” A mother is beyond any notion of a beginning. That’s what makes her a mother.” – Meghan O’Rourke

Now I am a mother and as I grieve the loss of my own, I am in the full blossom of being a mother to a three-year old.

My Beautiful Benjamin dancing to the garden muse

My Beautiful Benjamin dancing to the garden muse

“All love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning, to pinpoint the moment of freefall.” – Meghan O’Rourke

Sitting on a bridge in my childhood garden. My parents created this beautiful garden from scratch.

Sitting on a bridge in my childhood garden. My parents created this beautiful garden from scratch.

My mother’s ashes are on my mantle. Click here to read more about that and how I finally took down the Christmas lights to clear some space for my own healing and mourning process. I can not put into words just yet what is swirling inside me about finally having to let go by burying her ashes at Arlington. Her final wishes were to be buried with my father at Arlington National Cemetery. He passed away in 2003 and was cremated. My mother made arrangements for them to be buried together in the same plot. Her name will be on one side of the tombstone and my father’s will be on the other. They will be laid to rest together. My father was a veteran of the Korean War. Read this to learn more about my father, Inchon, and his gardens. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen.  Read this to learn more about why I miss him (this essay is one of my favorite things I have ever written, as it honors who he was as a man, husband, father, and veteran).

My dad stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day

My dad stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day

Read this if you want to read an essay about having to say goodbye to my father and get married to my soulmate.

I have to assume that burying my parents will be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it also has the power to be one of the most beautiful ceremonies of my life. I can only imagine the fertile soil this experience will provide in the garden of my life. I should think about the seeds I want to plant in it. Love, Respect, Hope, Joy, and of course sorrow. You can not get around sorrow. It is the fertilizer in life.

Garden Angel

Garden Angel

Just as Kahlil Gibran said, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked…”

On Joy and Sorrow

By: Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

So, I plant the seed and water this fertile soil with my tears and allow God’s love and my love for my parents to be the sunshine.

Lively Lettuce Leaf

Lively Lettuce Leaf

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” ― Claude Monet

Read this if you want to learn more about my mom and how magical she was to me as a child and how deeply I loved her — how deeply I love (present tense) her.

Stars

Stars

Life goes on, but grief stands still. I have learned that I am moving through the process of grief and accept it is on my own time. I accept that I have to feel everything and allow the moisture from this pain to provide the rain for my inner garden to grow.

The Red Rose of St. Therese is in blossom in my garden.

The Red Rose of St. Therese is in blossom in my garden.

In May of 2011, I had a close call with losing my mother. She had a serious bladder infection. She ultimately overcame it, but my heart felt giant as I was so close to her death and the anticipation of losing her. Read this if you want to read about that experience. When she did pass away, it was a bladder infection that was the cause of death.

3 Stars

3 Stars

“Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.” ~Terri Guillemets

“Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My son makes me whole.

My son makes me whole.

Memorial Day


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Proud to be American! Even prouder of the people who sacrifice their life to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

If you love a veteran, watch this documentary.

“Freedom has a price.  It’s not free.  You have to fight for this freedom” – Marine who served in the Korean War from Chosin, the documentary,

The only thing my father ever mentioned about the Korean War (he was a member of the Frozen Chosin and was at Inchon, one of the worst battles in Marine Corps history) was in regards to the TV show, M.A.S.H.

My sister and I used to hound him about it.  “Why won’t you let us watch it?”

He said curtly, “Because it’s not funny.”

He flipped the circular dial off and give us a look.

There was no way we could possibly know what this war did to him.  But I truly believe he sacrificed a part of himself he never got back.   My father is buried at Arlington Cemetery.  He was cremated and his ashes were sent to Arlington.  He did not get buried until January, because there were so many soldiers being buried from the Iraq War.  To love a soldier that survived war is to know what war does to a man.  But as the man in the trailer for Chosin, said, “Freedom has a price.  It’s not free. You have to fight for freedom.”  And I salute everyone who has served and the families that have loved soldiers who have come home and to those who have not.  My heart goes out to you.

I finally began to understand this side of my father when I went to a veteran’s support group meeting with him.  The psychologist who led the group had a hook for a hand; he lost his hand in Vietnam.  The men in the room that did speak, spoke about not wanting to burden their children and wives about the atrocities of war.  They thought it was best to keep it locked up inside themselves.  I’ve never been more proud of my father than at that moment.  It was his way of opening his heart about something that was deeply painful for him, even though he did not say a word.

Dad, I love you.  My father served in the Marine during the Korean War, and was also a member of the Frozen Chosin and survivor of the battle of Inchon.

My father stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day,