Creative Comfort

by Starla J. King on October 30, 2013

Almost 3 years since my parents’ deaths, and I still hadn’t visited their gravesite since the funeral — until this past weekend.

As I explained a while ago in a blog post over at Starla’s Word Stew, it wasn’t because I didn’t care or was (knowingly) trying to avoid re-visiting their deaths; it was because I just didn’t think there’d be any connection to them there (at their graves).

Turns out I was wrong.

My wife nudged me to visit my parents’ and sister’s tombstones while we were on a few-and-far-between excursion to my hometown this past weekend.  It was a beautiful Sunday morning, we could sneak back (unrecognized!) to the cemetery just after the Sunday School crowd had gone inside, and … I had my camera with me.  So I agreed that yes, it was time.

Stepping out of the car at the cemetery, I tensed against the cold air and seeing KING forever etched into those tombstones.

King tombstones

Nervous, I grabbed my camera and realized, as I felt its familiar weight in my hand, that I’d be ok.  No matter what, I had a tool to help me create something within my control from this experience — a visual representation of my feeling.  An avenue of expression.  A way to turn whatever my emotional reaction might be into something generative and life-giving.

My heart stopped for a moment as I stood on my family’s plot, followed by a shock of tears as memories flooded in and, without words, I whispered  I miss you. 

Then I put my heart in the viewfinder of my camera and wrapped myself in creative comfort.  The setting couldn’t have been more perfect for mirroring the mix of emotions:

King Tombstones

(I’m just now remembering that it wasn’t until I took a few photos that I stepped into my wife’s arms — after I’d had a chance to process my initial reactions through a few moments of creating.  Huh.)

We put a few stones (Jewish tradition) and a couple wildflowers on each tombstone, and then this happened 🙂 :


And now, telling you the story and sharing the photos, I feel again the sunshine warming the edge off the cold, and wipe a tear away as I chuckle at the inevitable appearance of nature, coffee and a baked good (funny cake pie, if you’re wondering) at a King family gathering.

We each have the power to create our own comfort, tailored to exactly what we need.  Consider the possibilities… consider the comfort.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn October 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Oh, Starla! This is grand. Good job! Wishing you comfort; this is a good season for it (“comfort & joy!”) as you come to terms w/ the finality of it all….(I’ve only had to w/ my mother.)


Starla J. King October 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Thanks, Dawn! It really was a beautiful experience out there this weekend.


marybeth gregg October 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Starla, the words that comes to mind are courage and love. After more than 4 years for my mom, and 3 for my dad, I have not had the courage to visit my parents graves. I am too afraid but you have now made me want to take the trip and make that connection. This is very powerful because we tend to think of separation of course, but being close sure would bring connection. Thank you, dear Starla, for sharing your story and your love.


Starla J. King October 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Mb, you will know when the time is right — trust your intuition. I did find it to be a connecting time. Maybe take your notebook as your “creative comfort”?


Ros Nelson October 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I’m so glad you left coffee for Mom and Dad. Just right and well-loved, indeed.


Starla J. King October 30, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Ros, they taught us well re: priorities. 🙂 And you’ll appreciate how many emails swirled around our family re: “hyphen or not?” in “well loved” before the engraving. Still makes me grin.


NJD October 30, 2013 at 5:52 pm

And of course… the tree of life emerging from the stone, reaching to the heavens. Pretty profound.


Starla J. King October 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

And of course, too, NjD, you saw even more than I originally did. No wonder I was so taken with that particular view. (Notice too, the angel-wing-like wisps of clouds. Fitting for my sister Angela). Perfection.


tina burkholder October 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

um, not to miss the point of your blog, but what was the conclusion on the hyphen? I think it works both ways. And thank you for sharing this Starla – intimate moments of beauty and connection.


Ros Nelson October 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm

If it were an adjective, such as “well-loved people” it would have a hyphen. So, I suppose the word, “parents” is implied… At any rate, I am sure that Mom and Dad would have loved the debate!


Starla J. King October 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

ha! I love that you two are having a punctuation conversation here. If I recall correctly, my family decided that hyphenated was technically correct but we liked the look and feeling of no hyphen better. Renegades that we are, we ditched the hyphen. 🙂


tina burkholder October 31, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Ah yes- love the renegade effect. Or should that be the renegade-effect?


Starla J. King November 5, 2013 at 10:14 am



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