Saturday, March 8, 2014

Where your heart lives...

My parents, especially my father, loved Sedona. Well, everyone loves Sedona. Our family has had a second home here since the 1970s, off and on, and I spent countless weekends, summers, and vacations in the very tiny town of Sedona.

Around here, we have something we call "Sedona fever" wherein tourists buy homes on their first visit and move their families here in a moment of red rock impulse. It's easy to see why, isn't it?

Breathtaking monsoons
Distant red rocks

The magic of Sedona

Not an usual sighting

Since I was a little girl, I've been drawn to Sedona.

It's not a town with night life other than the magnificent stars that shine so brightly you can almost touch their glow. Yeah, I'm a little earth mother anyway and big cities were never my thing.

Playing in the creek, 16 years old

Nonetheless, when I moved here full-time six years ago, I felt I'd come home, and I mean this in a big way.

The next year, while out walking one day, I came upon a little cemetery in West Sedona, down a side street behind a U-Haul facility. Never one to resist an old cemetery (surprise, surprise), I wandered in, curiously reading epitaphs of the dead, many of whom were children.

Cemetery in West Sedona

I knew the town I loved so much my entire life was named after Sedona Schnebly, one of the earlier settlers, but I didn't know much else about her.

Sedona Schnebly

And then while walking around in this humble and quite simple cemetery, I chanced upon Sedona's grave. I was so surprised, and I felt a deep connection with her resting place.

Sedona Schnebly's grave

Suddenly, I noticed, just next to hers, another grave. "Pearl A. Schnebly…beloved daughter."

Her precious Pearl

How is it that I never knew the town I so loved all my life was named after one of us, a bereaved mother?

I sat down on the dirt by their graves and tears fell. I wanted to know more so I began to research the lives of Sedona and Pearl Schnebly…

It was 1905, and Sedona's 6-year-old daughter was riding her pony when the unthinkable happened. Sedona was there, helplessly watching as her daughter was dragged. The grief was unbearable.

Sedona used to look out the window of her kitchen onto the grave of little Pearl every day. She was so distraught by her beloved baby's death that they fled Sedona several months later.

The home where Pearl was buried

Sedona Schnebly did not return to the place she so loved until her own burial 45 years later, as requested, beside her precious Pearl, in 1950.

I visit her grave often now, and I talk to Sedona- and to Pearl- and I understand why this is the only place on earth I want to live.


If you're a provider and want some excellent bereavement care training and a chance to see Sedona in person, visit this link.


Ginny said...

Very cool Dr. Joanne. :) Ginny Limer, fan of yours & Mama at

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you (((Ginny)))

Bug Family said...

Dear Joanne,

Thank for for sharing all of this. Beautiful and tragic. The place of Sedona is truly magical and serene and I'm so happy you're in a place that you love and know that you should be there. I've been fortunate to see it three times, once in my dreams.. <3

Can't wait to see it a fourth time. And you once again. See you soon!

I'm so sorry for what happened to Sedona and her precious Pearl who now also hold a place in my heart.

Thinking of you.

Big big hugs and Love,

Denise said...

Such a wonderful post, beautiful pictures.


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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