Saturday, September 8, 2012

Giving a Life to Those Who Have Died . . .

"Sometimes love lasts a moment.
Sometimes love lasts a lifetime.
Sometimes a moment is a lifetime."

   Before the advent of the Safe Surrender for unwanted newborn babies, many babies were discarded as people might discard a sack of trash. They were put into garbage cans, toilets, and other unsavory places such as the side of roads. California had no Safe Surrender. Babies that are found in this state are simply cremated, with the ashes kept for several months and then they are cast into the pile of ashes of all sorts of people who died and who were not claimed.
   It is estimated that prior to Jan. 1, 2001, some 500 babies passed from this earth in California as castaways. Some had been abandoned; still others had been killed. Not all were newborns; the oldest of the children buried in the Garden of Angels in Desert Lawn Cemetery of Calimesa, CA, was five years old and killed apparently by his parents. (The photo to the left is one of my many art cards I have made. This one seems to fit the story really well; I avoided using photos out of respect for Debi and for the children. You can google the cemetery to see photos. You can click on the photos for a larger view.)
  The Safe Surrender law was brought about by Debi Faris-Lujan, a housewife with three children of her own. One evening in 1996, she heard a television news story about a newborn baby boy found dead in a duffel bag alongside the San Pedro Freeway. She was so touched by the sad story that she set out to find the child and bury it. Not knowing what she would face, she set out and would not give up in her quest to get the child and give it a decent burial.  Before the burial, however, she had found another baby boy and a baby girl as well. So that first burial August 26, 1996 involved three babies Debi named Matthew, Nathan and Dora. (This is another of my art cards that somehow seemed appropriate for this writing.)
  This wonderful woman gave her own money with her husband to buy caskets for the babies, and ultimately the two bought more plots as well. Later, she would win the lottery (I don't know if it was the big one or not, but she donated much of the money to more burial plots for the babies). Debi Faris-Lujan, who now lives in Arizona but returns to California every month, is founder and director of Garden of Angels and Safe Surrender for Newborns, P.O. Box 1776, Yucaipa, CA 92320, 909-229-0123.
   To date, some 95 babies are buried in the cemetary. Each baby is not only given a name, but wrapped in a newly made blanket and it is held by Debi before it is placed in the casket made for it with a little soft toy and flowers as well. There are funerals for each child, often with others in attendance. Sometimes white doves have been released into the sky, In that brief and final moment or moments, that tiny person becomes a real person who has mattered in this world. (I picked my art quilt, "Wabi Sabi," as the third and final piece of art. Wabi Sabi is a philosophy of the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.)


No comments:

Post a Comment