We went to the mountains recently one Sunday afternoon. Since we moved to Great Falls last fall, the closest mountains are The Little Belt Mountains. They are known for their great ATV trails and they are certainly a gem! We had only been there once before and access to the spot we wanted to explore is unmarked, so we went in hopes of finding it and also stumbling into more serendipity.
We found it, our surprise for the day, on the outskirts of Neihart, MT, a small town that last had a gigantic census of 51. Although it wasn’t what we imagined discovering, it was delightful and amazing and a bit heart breaking. An old cemetery interwoven across a hillside of pine trees.
Some of the stones were reset with newer versions and some were old original slabs of wood. The gentle whisper of wind through the pines and the burble of water in the nearby stream spread a restful sensation over the graves. I felt the presence of God as we wandered through the scattering. I wandered how many hearts broke here. How many gallons of tears were cried, or if the folks back then were stoic and calm.
This mother buried two of her children. They were only 5 and 6 years old and died the same day.
Then there were these amazing plots that made you pause in reverence and respect. Somebody loved these people. Somebody grieved their death. Somebody erected a fence to mark their resting and memory here on earth.
And this stone….since I couldn’t put flowers at my little girls grave for Mother’s Day, I placed some here. Imagine my heart feeling so hugged when a friend in Pennsylvania placed some at my own daughters grave! Elsie and Kierra were born a day apart in July, but in two different centuries. Isn’t that amazing!? I mean….God just blows me away with His little love notes He drops my way!
So many of the graves were babies and young children. It was astonishing to me. Even teenagers and thirty year olds were not uncommon. It was a hard life they lived….these brave people that carved their mark into the history of Montana. There were two stones that seemed to sum it up for every one.
We saw the most glorious sun works on the way home and it reminds me of the song…” The hills are alive with the sound of music…” And I could nearly hear the joy of spring bursting from the green country side.