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A Teddybear Tombstone This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

In a graveyard in New Hampshire there is a tombstone shaped like a teddy bear. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it. The grey marble was polished and clean, weeds around it plucked and trimmed. I found out later that Brianna's mother cleaned it with Windex every time they went to visit her. Today was her 10th birthday, or rather, it would have been. Katelyn died when she was just 7 months old, before she really even had a chance to live. This somber truth hung over us as the car pulled up, slowly crunching gravel, and finally stopped with a shutter. We all got out; Brianna, her mom, my mom, and me. Brianna never met her sister. She was born 3 years after Katelyn’s death. I felt numb walking to the gravesite. Holding Brianna’s hand in mine we meandered through the plots and suddenly found ourselves in front of a name engraved in the marble. Brianna's mother went right to work making sure the weeds had not re-grown and replacing the dead flowers with a fresh bouquet. I stood there with holding 10 little candles and a sister who had been left behind. The cake she bought was made of roses. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. Or so sad. I stuck in the candles and lit them. They left my hand waxy and cold. I set the cake down. Brianna's family doesn't sing much so she asked me and my mother to sing. Happy Birthday Dear Katelyn, Happy Birthday To You. The last note hovered over the grave like a cloud. We all cried. I’ll never forget what happened next. Brianna's mother knelt down, took the hands of her crying daughter and smiled and said, “Today they’re having a party up in heaven Brianna. I bet there’s a whole bunch of balloons.”



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