Almost by definition you can't get the whole story at a cemetery. All we get is fragments, snapshots. A skewed view. And yet...
Because from her own gravestone I know when she died, and how old she was just then, I also know when the future Mrs. Lucy Willson was born. But not much else, for a while. Because of what else I see on the surrounding stones, I want it to have been that the first 35 years of her life were blissfully happy. I surmise that sometime, presumably prior to 1791, she married one Mr. Solomon Willson. And again, I want the marriage to have been happy and warm.
Because some things I do know. I know that the turn of the century was not kind to Mrs. Willson. Whatever it was that came through her small New England town in late spring of 1800, or maybe something cruelly particular to her household, something in the water maybe, whatever it was though, it took her eight year old at the very end of May. And a week later it, or something else-- who knows,-- took her baby, only months old.
1801 was the year she buried the two infants whose stone caught my eye in the first place. And in January of 1803, another infant. Though perhaps she didn't literally bury that one, since only three days later Mrs. Lucy Willson herself passed from this world. Presumably from complications of childbirth. She was 38.
I wonder whether she knew she was dying. I wonder if at that point it seemed like a welcome relief. Or not. Because I also wonder how many other children was she leaving behind. I want it to have been not zero. Not because I want those children to have been left motherless, or because I want it to have been that she spent years and years of her life pregnant or breastfeeding, or both. And not because I think the ones she would've been leaving behind in that scenario would've made lovely consolation prizes. But because, even two hundred plus years later, I just don't want the five buried next to her to have been it.
Mr. Solomon Willson, by the way? He lived a long and, judging by the thickness and the width of his eventual tombstone-- both significantly greater than Lucy's and the children's,-- and made of a more substantial material too, prosperous life. He remarried, and his second wife is buried with him, having lived a long life herself. Whether the second Mrs. Willson was luckier or unluckier than the first in the childbearing department, that I do not know-- none of her children are buried anywhere nearby. Though maybe all it means is that she didn't ever have any. Either way, if Lucy's surviving children did exist, I want the second Mrs. Willson to have been a good step mother to them.
Glimpses and shadows.