Our deepest emotions are felt in our hearts. The heart shape, which, by the way, looks nothing like the real human heart, is a symbol of many emotions including joy, courage, and sorrow, but most especially love. Millions of cards are exchanged every Valentine’s Day with red-heart shapes printed on them, expressions of romance and love.
The symbol of two hearts on the tomb above represents love, as well. The New Orleans tomb displays the willow, a traditional symbol of sorrow. In this carving the willow branches shelter two hearts on the tomb hinting at grief and a tragic story.
In 1869, J. Pinkney Smith’s young nineteen-year old wife, Katie McIlheny Smith, died in childbirth. One heart has Katie’s name carved into it. The other heart is left nameless in honor of the unamed baby that died as it was born and as its Mother died. Together their hearts are intertwined in marble. Desolate and broken, J. Pinkney Smith, husband to Katie, wrote his wife’s epitaph, “Soon as she found the key of life, it opened the gates of death.”