Cemetery Beauty on Memorial Day

I have a wonderful picture of my middle kidlet when she was almost a year old and we were visiting my great great grandfather's grave for Memorial Day. She wasn't sure on her feet yet, and when I set her in front of grandpa's headstone she plopped down onto her little diapered patootie, put her hands in her lap, and just gazed at the granite. For a long time. It was a fairly new stone and good sized. Much bigger than my tyke. She had to see it in stages, and I watched her rotate her head and sweep her liquid eyes across the lettering, slowly, like she was actually reading it.

After a bit, Little Child reached up and very gently touched the headstone. Then she pulled herself up to stand and touched grandpa's name again and again, reverently. It was one of those crystal moments where all sound stops and you're gazing into a bubble that exists on a different plane. My child felt something within herself, and I know she didn't know what was going on. She was having a moment and it was lovely.

Then my huz took the picture, babe looked at us and smiled, dropped to her knees, and speed-crawled across the grass to us.

I love cemeteries. Surprisingly, this kid — almost all growed up now — does not. But it relates to her earlier experience, I think. She somehow had a connection with my great great grandfather in that cemetery. You could see her feeling it. I think now that she's old enough to understand human relationships and attachments, it becomes too overwhelmingly sad for her to see them paused or broken when she gazes down rows of headstones. It's her heart. And hopefully it will figure out how to process the cycle of life and energy and love.

Me? I think cemeteries are great. Quiet treasure troves of Things Done, Adventures Had, Actions Taken, Histories, Mistakes, and Broken Heart Strings. And I find them deeply moving places for all the joy and pain represented there. I love finding the oldest headstone and imagining the life it represents; looking at how plots are cared for and imagining family. I love the peace and reverence for the lives those people led that seems to imbue the earth that cradles them.

I hope people are writing their lives down so we have the stories represented by cemetery stones. And I hope we always have lovely, well-kept or overgrown places to remember the people who passed through before us. They're the ones who gave us the Now. Good, bad, or ugly, we owe them a lot. I think I'll go visit the little graveyard I discovered a while back, hidden just north of me on the crest of a hill overlooking the valley. Seeing the lives that were and the lives that are, together like that, should make for nice peaceful thinking.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.

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