Note's from the Garden
Innocence is described in Webster’s Dictionary as “Without worldly experience”
In 1999, a baby was found in the trash in Chula Vista, CA. You read about this happening in the local newspaper but then your life gets in the way and you jump up to start your day and forget about those articles. For some reason, with this particular story, on this particular day, I couldn’t forget.
After being haunted by this story for a month, I finally called the county coroner’s office and asked him “for my own peace of mind, what ever happened to that baby”. The coroner said, “He is still here and if no one claims him, he will go into an unmarked grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery”. I asked the coroner, “how do you a claim a baby that’s not yours?” and he said, “Show me you have a dignified place to put him.”
This was the catalyst that started Garden of Innocence’s. A place to lay children to rest with the love and dignity they deserve. A place to lay them to rest and experience a chance to be part of their short life and become their family. To show them we love them, even though we don’t know them.
A place, where perfect strangers can go, to attend a service, for a child that no one else cared about. A place, for a child to be laid to rest, with a name on the lawn, so that we would be reminded that they were once here. A place, where a child receives a name, given to them by someone who cared. Not the word Doe or a number on a morgue tag but a real name. A place, where we can go to feel like we did something special, for someone else, without thanks or expectations. That we took time out of our lives for a stranger that needed us.
Garden of Innocence is such a place.
We take care of any abandoned or unidentified child. Children that have been found, unidentified in the trash, along the road or in the sewer. Garden of Innocence loves them.
Children, that have been born at area hospitals and passed away, but the parents walked out and didn’t claim their child’s body. Garden of Innocence rescue’s them.
Children that have been taken to a mortuary, by their parents and cremated, but the parents never came back to pick them up or pay for their service. Garden of Innocence cares for them.
No child should leave this earth without someone who cared. No child should go into an unmarked mass pauper’s grave with the hundreds of indigents. They deserve better than this. They didn’t get a chance to choose their path in life. They didn’t get a chance to make their life decisions. Maybe they never could but they don’t deserve to not be given the dignity of a decent burial. With approval from the county, those children can now be laid to rest in Garden of Innocence.
When we receive a child, the first thing we do is give them a name. This is a dignity every human being deserves. We place them in a handmade blanket given to them by strangers. We give them a toy to take with them. Every child loves toys! We write a poem, written just for them, to be read at their service in their honor. We give them a casket or urn, sometimes made by other children, especially for them. A place to comfortable rest with their little blanket and toy. We give them a space on the lawn, so that we can go back and visit them and be grateful that we were given this chance to reach out to another human being and be touched by their time with us.
We give them a full memorial service with color guard to escort them to the garden attended by hundreds of strangers, who now become their family. Who will walk away from the service with a lighter step knowing they did something special today. Who will want to hurry home and tell someone else about this special place and tell others to come to the next service. How many times have you ever gone to a funeral and couldn’t wait to do it again. It happens in the garden.
We bring communities together and teach them how to care for one of their own and to watch over their garden and make a difference in so many lives. The one who knit the blanket, think’s about the fact that the one they are making it for will never see it. The one who give them a toy, knowing that the one they are giving it to, will never cuddle it. The one that build their casket or urn, knowing that it will go to someone who had nothing and the person that writes a poem, knowing that they never will hear it.
But the children do, see it, cuddle it, know it. We are blessed with butterflies in the garden, which is the sign they send us, to let us know that they know, what we are doing for them. We have learned many lessons from them and the most important one we learned is that when someone dies, it is maybe the end of their life as we know it but it’s just the beginning of their next experience. We will meet them again someday but they will always be with us. We just have to listen and be quiet.
As you continue on with your day, think about Garden of Innocence and how you might help us grow. Think about what you would like to do to help us meet our goal of a garden in every state. Think about what you can do to help a child that had nothing yesterday but has you today!
Visit our Garden’s and the children resting there. Take a moment out of your day, to do something special for someone else for the gladness of the act itself. Give in remembrance. Give a smile, a nod, a hand to someone else. You never know if that person is really an Angel.
Garden of Innocence is there for you to take your troubles to. To sit quietly in the garden and tell the children how you feel. They will help you if you will just be quiet and listen. We have learned this in the garden. Make it your quiet place. Listen to the sounds the garden makes. Leaves swaying, birds singing, silent clouds passing overhead. Then you will realize that this is God’s special place and he is grateful that we did our best to send his children home with the love and dignity of family. That what happened yesterday is past and not needed to be talked about but today is a new day and this child is going home and we are grateful to have the chance to participate in their home going. To celebrate their time together & to pay honor for their path crossing our lives. Wrapped gently in warm blankets & resting in their special place called Garden of Innocence.
Please think about placing the garden in your trust or donate your car, boat, RV, gravesite or home.
Let us honor you back by giving you the opportunity of naming a future baby coming to the garden. We thank you for reading this story and for your kind heart.
I leave you now with Michaela’s poem. Michaela was found in the woods off the Sunrise Highway on Palomar Mountain, where she had laid in a handmade blanket with a hospital tag on her thigh. Where no animal or bug touched her for two years. Curled up tightly against the cold of a February morning in 2001.
Think of me, each time you are frustrated with each other
Think of me, each time you are impatient or quick to anger
Think of Me!
For the love and compassion that has brought you here together today
Is in each one of you and if you are ever in doubt
Think of ME!