We've driven past it several times as we've explored the island. Last week, we decided finally to stop and see the International Children’s Memorial Park in central Prince Edward Island. It is a place of serenity and beauty where families who have lost children commemorate them.
“This place could bring you down,” my husband says as we leave the car. Neither of us speak as we walk along by the Ever Living Forest.
Trees have been planted in memory of loved ones with each tree dedicated to a specific person. Some contain photos of the child or young person on a plaque as well.
It is overwhelming to see the number of lost children, represented by the trees.
The photo shows a newer section of the forest. We don't look at the plaques or photos. How do families cope with such loss?
Our thoughts went back over thirty years when we almost lost our daughter at six weeks of age and years later, our eldest granddaughter was a reluctant newborn. Those were moments of terror in our lives and we imagined their names in this place. Then we noticed the trail.
It runs along the banks of Scales Pond through a mixed forest.
One’s eyes are drawn upward and on this day, the tall trees sway in the warm late summer breeze.
Birds sing in the trees and out on the river, cormorants float, occasionally driving for fish.
There is a boat launch area for non-motorized boats.
Benches located along the trail provide a place to sit and reflect. We listen and absorb the tranquility of the scene and the song of the wind in the trees. We are the only people there.
The last section of trail is an open area along the shore between the pond and the trees, an untamed area more open to the pond.
Here, the plants bordering the trail are waist high and hundreds of white butterflies
flit through the vegetation and all around us.
The tiny white beauties and their free spirits are perfect in this setting, appropriate symbols for this place.
Sadness is not the sentiment as we head back to the car, but rather peace that comes with comfort and gratitude.