Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Cemetery

So quiet. The Cemetery is.

I drive into the front entrance very slow so as not to disrupt the serene setting.

It seems ironic but I enjoy the expanse of graves. The peacefulness. The resting place of so many.

Headstones are shaded by the wide spread branches of overly large trees.

A few visitors, some in groups, some solo, are spread throughout the cemetery.

Brad is with me. He's not too sure about the graveyard scene. To him, it blatantly screams death!.

I coax him along. "Come on. It's over there, somewhere."

He looks toward the ground, at all the names, the dates, and the sentiments engraved into the markers of the dead. Grandparents. Mothers. Fathers. Wives. Husbands. Children.

The reality of children dying early in life, not being able to grow a little more, brings a sadness to both of us.

We walk, slowly. Brad follows me.

I am not sure of the exact location to which we are headed. It's been a while since my last visit. I wander, knowing we are close. A tree used to help me find them quickly. Not anymore. The tree planted for my brother Bill has also died. Its regal stance removed to prevent further decay.

Walking in circles. That is what we are doing. Walking. Circling. Looking.

When Bill died in 1978, my parents had a hard time picking a headstone. Not an easy task, to say the least, when you expect your children to outgrow you. Live long after you are gone. The lovely, small shading tree was planted before a headstone was set. It was gone before my brother Scott joined Bill.
When Scott died 9 years after Bill, a flush-to-the-ground black stone was laid to rest above them. Both their names, dates of birth and deaths are engraved in white. Our last name was placed at the top of the placard; large, spreading horizontally over both names.

"There it is," I say, quietly.

I do not want to disturb the nearby young couple sitting next to their loved-one's graveside; tenderly arranging a small bunch of flowers inside the provided filled-with-water-from-a-nearby-spigot cup.

I bend down. Brush the debris and browned pine needles off their names.

"This one says Bill and Scott. Where is Grandpa's?" Brad asks, quizzically.
"He's here. On the left, next to them." My dad's headstone has yet to be chosen. It's been 11 years since he passed away. The choice of a personalized name-plate is still difficult.

Cautiously, he tears up at the idea of me getting old Brad is told that I, too, have a place right there. In one of those plots. "Do I?" he wonders.

"No. You see, when your Uncle Bill died, Grandma and Grandpa bought a place for each of their children. And for themselves. So we wouldn't have to think about it later."

He looks at me full of questions, but doesn't ask me anything.

I continue. "The thing is, now that I have you, your brother and sister and your dad.... Well, we have to figure something else out...."

"Yeah," is all he could say.

After a bit, we walk slowly back towards the car. I ask him to be careful, to have respect for the deceased. "Never step on their headstones." He gently walks along the grassy areas, stepping carefully over stones as he journeys across the land.

He turns and looks at me. Smiles. I snap a picture.

The cemetery is a place of peace, calmness. For me, it is not a place of sadness; but a place to remember. A place to feel and think of love.

I remember Bill. His long hair. Its blondness pulled back in a ponytail. Or left loose, to rustle in the breeze. Bill's hair is the reason that on some days I just let my hair do its own thing, lose control. My wild hair reminds me of Bill.

I remember Scott. Scott and his violin. The French Beret he seemed to always wear. The coins he'd magically pull out of the little children's ears. Scott, who shook Rudy's hand, welcoming him into the family.

I remember my dad. The highly-intelligent-blue-eyed-long-haired-jaguar-driving-college-professor who also was a loving husband and father, caring tremendously about the lives of his wife and their nine sons and two daughters.

The graveyard is my place.
My place to think, to dream, and to wonder.
A reminder that I am never alone in this big world of ours.


  1. This post hit very close to home for me. I have spent some time in the cemetery since my mom's passing back in July. One day when we were there we had a similar experience looking for my grandparents grave. Thanks for sharing your quiet place.

  2. I hope it provides some calmness for you as well, Kat.

  3. Wow! I really enjoyed this one. A peaceful, calming place. Nothing scary and it's okay to be sad. I like the thinking/conversation you can have with yourself in the graveyard. Nice work. :)

  4. Thank you Paula. It's definitely heartfelt.