Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Remebering Someone Dear to Us

Our altar for a baby who is dear to us
It's really nice to find information, visit as a tourist, and write about the rich traditions which Mexico has for the Day of Dead, but it's something entirely different actually to participate, and create your own altar.

Two out of the four Novembers which I've been in Mexico, I've helped my wife set up a little table with a few candles on it, but this year we set up a more elaborate altar with most of the traditional elements (click here to read a post about some of these elements).  This changes everything, because now, instead of looking from the outside, making nice observations about how great it is to commemorate the deceased, my wife and I now have our own altar, with pictures of people we knew and loved, and items to commemorate their lives.  These next two posts, I'm going to focus on who the altars were for.

An Altar for a Baby

This year something happened in our lives which has been very difficult, especially for two close friends of ours.  Only a month and half after their baby was born, he passed away.  I admire them for dealing with this very difficult time much better than I believe I would be able to in their situation, but, needless to say, it has been very difficult for them.

The first altar we put up two nights ago was dedicated entirely this baby.  My wife had the fortune of spending a lot of time with him; although I would have liked more time, I also greatly cherish the hours that I was with him.  Yesterday, we sat in front of the altar, with the candles lit, sharing our memories of his short life, the joy that he brought, and the pain that came with his parting.

The altar included a glass of water, a small cup of milk, some toys which our son chose and a picture of him in addition to the marigolds, cross and candles.

This is not a cultural experience, like many of my other posts; this is a real way of remembering someone dear to us.  We placed the altar to remember him, to accompany him and to comfort him.  We know that now he is with God, in whose arms he has more comfort than those who were left here without him.  When we enter the church were his ashes are kept, our 2-year-old son tells us that up above the church's altar, he sees our friends' dear baby in the arms of the Mother of God ("Mama Dios" - these are his own words, not ours, and he was never prompted by anyone to say this.)  We believe this is true.

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