Great Big Beautiful Clouds



My father took red roses to my mother’s grave today. I went with him to buy the roses—plastic, long-stemmed copies of the real thing. Artificial baby’s breath round out the bouquet, which he put in the marble vase where her ashes lie.

Whatever remains of my grandmother and grandfather since they died, years ago, now lie near my mother’s grave. These are my father’s parents, not hers, and my father’s name is already etched in the tombstone he will share with my mother.

To be truthful, I doubt that my mother needs the comfort of proximity to her in-laws now.  I like to think that she is unencumbered by protocol and customary expectations in her new form. She lives wherever and however she wants and she is energetic and youthful and pain-free. She is not lying below the ground.


Cemeteries are for the living. Spirits long gone do not live below earth except in the form of rooted oaks and baby acorns or the iris clump that started from bulb taken from my great-grandmother’s garden. They lie in the wisp of white cloud against sapphire blue skies, dipping and swirling to touch the mountain top. They can be heard in wind moving through the pines and in birdsong that plays before the rest of the world awakes.

That hummingbird I hear just now may be my mother. I can imagine her flitting around, saying hello with a trill of noise and a flash of velvety green that I see from the corner of my eye.

Or she might be riding on one of those great, big beautiful clouds.

No matter which, I know she’s there.




I took these pictures of clouds on a visit to the ghost town of Caribou, Colorado.  

There is more about Caribou in my post on Through the Lens of We.

And if you missed out, I hope you will check out the photography and thoughts at some of my other posts there: 

No Matter Which Way

True Blue

Of Sunshine and Leaves

The Future Lives in a Cloud

How Things Began


70 thoughts on “Great Big Beautiful Clouds

  1. “They lie in the wisp of white cloud against sapphire blue skies, dipping and swirling to touch the mountain top.”

    I oh-so-resonate with your thoughts on what happens after we shake off the mortal package we reside in!

  2. I’ve never thought that we should be tied to a place once we pass. Maybe some of us stay close to loved ones as long as they are here. But I like to think there are many places we can visit and see, perhaps stopping back to visit from time to time before embarking on another journey somewhere in the universe.

  3. Stacia,
    The way you describe where our loved ones are now does my heart good. I have never been able to imagine that my Mom, along with her parents, was in that mound of dirt I visit. Your photos are stunning and I can easily picture them floating around on one of your clouds waiting for us to join them.

  4. Beautiful. Like you, and like Darla, I know that my Dad is not lurking under the dark, cold ground. And I am determined that when my own time comes, I will be set free to swirl around in the wind, coming to rest wherever I want to rest.
    Thank you for this lovely post!

  5. I feel the same way about my grandmother. She no longer has pain and when I see a butterfly fluttering around me I wonder if it is her saying hi.

  6. So beautiful….your words echo what I remember my mother saying after her mother died. Although we’d visit the cemetery and take flowers there, Mom said she knew her mother wasn’t there. And that’s the way I feel too.
    Your writing is so touching; I’m always amazed at how your words flow.

  7. At first I thought the photo was of ocean waves – then realized it is clouds soaring to represent your words. And then there are your words defining a sublime state of being. And the whole effect is thought provoking and exceptionally beautiful.

  8. Wow, if only I could write like that.You paint such a beautiful picture with your words.Loved the post as well as the pics. Im sure I am going to spend a lot of time on your blog now. Loved it.

  9. Beautifully said. I do not believe the spirits of the dead dwell under the ground either. I believe their physical remains are there, but that spirit/soul is wandering free, soaring through the clouds. 🙂

  10. Beautiful post, in words and images. I was thinking similar thoughts early this morning. The anniversary of my mother’s birth is coming up (I think that’s the proper way to say birthday after someone has died), and she’s on my mind a lot right now. Usually when she’s on my mind, a deer will show up or there will be something about the way the trees are dancing in the wind that reminds me of her spirit. 🙂

  11. Beautiful post, one that I can definitely identify with. My mother left this life for the next in 2000, but I like to think of her hovering nearby checking on her loved ones. She loved listening to birds, and just this morning, the loud tweeting of a particularly loud one woke me up and I thought, “Okay, Mama. I know it’s time to rise and shine.”

    • I think cemeteries are quiet, reflective places and usually quite peaceful, pegoleg. I have this thing about exploring and taking pictures of cemeteries…..especially when I travel. Always so interesting! Glad you visited. I better hop over and see what’s going on at your place :-).

  12. I like the way you look at death… It is similar to the way I understand it. For me, the body, after it dies… is a little like the fingernail clippings that I’ve cast aside all my life… the spirit is a different story.

  13. A beautiful post about death. I really like the way you describe how the dead rest. Surely they don’t live underground, but how found peace among the wisp of white cloud, as you write. Your words are very touching and lovely. And the photos so expressive and sensible, in particular the black and white.

  14. JMmcDowell was right to nominate you for a blog award (which is how I found you). Lovely. I too find my loved ones who have passed on in the clouds and sounds and sensations of nature.

  15. When my grandmother died, we were living in San Antonio and she was in New York City. I almost felt closer to her after she died than I had since we had moved so far apart because I felt she was right there with me, not 1700 miles away. I’d look up and see a patch of blue or a ray of sunshine through the clouds, and I’d feel she was smiling at me. When I die, I’ve told my children that I want my ashes tosses into Cape Cod Bay, right near Corn Hill. I’ve always loved the sea.

  16. So touching Bella. I take my mother to the cemeteries to place flowers on my grandparents’ and my dad’s graves. It is a little sad. I’d rather think of them as you do – as hummingbirds and butterflies and nice breezes.

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