Over the course of the winter, Janet Christiansen got a few new neighbors.
A short distance away from Janet's grave can be found the new graves of four elderly women: Catherine, Dorothy, Helen, and Ruth. Of this quartet, Helen was the eldest, born in 1914, thus 97 or 98 years old; Ruth was the youngest, born in 1930, making her some 81 or 82 years old. All were married, and three were widows: only Ruth did not outlive her husband.
Contrast that with Janet Christiansen's grave, which only bears the family headstone marked Christiansen. There are no other inscriptions or markers that would indicate that buried there are Janet Christiansen and a sister, Gaynelle, who died in 1982.
Janet was murdered in 2005. Her husband, Raven, was charged with the crime in 2010. She left behind a 6-month old, Kaiden, and was pregnant at the time of her death.
She came to my attention last summer when I read in the local newspaper that her remains were to be exhumed to gather additional forensic evidence. Her grave is only half a mile from my home, and I frequently run through the Brown's Mill Cemetery. Once I became aware of the circumstances, I began leaving wildflowers on her grave whenever I would run by. Today was no exception.
Janet's life was cut short at age 25, in stark contrast to the four other ladies--Catherine, Dorothy, Helen, and Ruth--who had the good fortune to share a long life with a good man. Janet's death serves as a reminder to me that life is short and there are no guarantees...and helps me to be a better person by not taking anything for granted.