Friday, March 18, 2011

Passing Through


photo credit
My sister Vauna's kitchen window looks out over a cemetery. As I stood washing her dishes I asked her, "Do you get to watch a lot of burials?"

"Not really," she said. "But I do get to see a lot of people visit graves to grieve, or talk to their loved ones.

After dinner we walked through the cemetery. The kids were on scooters and bikes, and her two enormous dogs pulled at their leashes. All around us were fresh flowers and graves festooned with happy remembrances. I couldn't imagine a happier, more lovely place for a Sunday stroll. We read the inscriptions as we ambled along, and I noticed that many of the deceased were born in the nineteenth century, even before the Civil War. There were infant graves. Teenage graves. And couple headstones with fifty years between the passing of the two spouses. It would be hard to lose your husband in your fifties, and then live on into your nineties.

After a while my sister said, "What I love the most about the cemetery is when people come to visit loved ones who have been dead for a LONG time. I see people kneeling at graves that are more than half a century old." That's a long time to miss someone.

As we exited the cemetery gates an elderly man pulled up in his pick-up truck. We watched him get out and take off his hat before crouching down next to a grave. I looked away after that, allowing the moment to belong to him. But as we walked back to the house I wondered if watching this sort of scene from your kitchen window on a daily basis might gradually influence you. Just spending an afternoon passing through a cemetery was enough to make me want to wrap my arms around my little family and hold on tight. Or walk over to the old man and put a hand on his shoulder. I felt like I understood him, even though I probably didn't. I guess the tenderness of grief is a common language, the one experience that eventually will belong to all of us.

1 comment:

  1. It's soothing to watch them out the window while I wash dishes. People die, life goes on. Not everyone remembers but some do. It's enough.

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