After They Have Gone
Taken from Remembering Carobell Smiles and Tears
Elizabeth Bell Midgett, 1988 and 1996
One of the things we pushed to the back of our minds when we opened Carobell was the thought of losing one of our babies. We knew it might happen. In fact before we opened we talked to the people in the state Department of Mental Health and asked them if it was against the rules to cry when one of our children died. It was not.
In the spring of 1970 Aunt Ginny and Big Mama were looking for a cemetery plot for their future use. One of Carobell's early friends suggested we ask the city to give us additional grave spaces for our Carobell children. So two grave spaces were purchased, and ten others were given to Carobell in the Jacksonville City Cemetery. We chose a spot on a hill near some large trees and across the road from Baby Land, where many children from this area are buried.
We feel so strongly God's daily presence in our work here at Carobell. We have been entrusted with the lives of "the very least of these." We feel we are God's agents, here to watch over and care for our babies until He calls them home. When our children die, they are not alone. Each child we have lost has died in the loving arms of a staff member. We know of no other way to give a child back to God than from the arms of someone who loves him.
In March of 1971 we lost our first baby, and we buried our little David on the hill. The day after his funeral, the cemetery caretaker informed Big Mama that it was a good thing he had not been buried any lower on the hill because his casket might be floating in water. This thought alarmed all the Carobell family. The only thing to do was to build a retaining wall and have it filled in with dirt. There were no funds for this, however, the Carobell family reached out and friends responded. Rains slowed down the work, the wall had to be six blocks high at the bottom of the hill and we needed eight loads of fill dirt with two loads of topsoil. Volunteers from the Jacksonville community finally helped complete this project.
In July of 1971, our Billy the Kid died. We planned to have him buried next to David, but the funeral director said, "I'm afraid not," Billy was black. "But he's our Carobell baby" said Big Mama. "We'll see about this," said Aunt Ginny and went to see the mayor. So our William was the first black person to be buried at Jacksonville City Cemetery. Now there are children of all races buried with their Carobell family. They will always belong to us.
-- September 19, 1971 --