Sitting in a Cemetery

It is so peaceful here, surrounded by the dead,

a gentle breeze rustling through the air

green grass, trees, flowers everywhere.

Letting those we’ve loved return to the beauty of nature

from whence they came.

This place where we complete the cycle of life,

where we memorialize those we love

with names, dates, brief inscriptions in stone,

nothing that could do a lifetime of memories justice.

Close my eyes, lean back, and imagine

imagine the stories, the connections interwoven here,

the lives lived that built this community,

that raised families, that marched off to war,

that loved and fought, laughed and cried,

lived simple quiet lives or lives quite heroic,

lives lived too briefly and lives lived into the hundreds.

I imagine the secrets buried here,

of forbidden love affairs or darker, more sinister family secrets,

the pain buried here,

those buried without a chance to right their wrongs

to ask for forgiveness.

I imagine the lovers buried here side-by-side,

how their youthful teenage flirtations

turned into marriages that lasted decades

I feel a little sorrow for those joint headstones

where the husband has perished 20+ years before his wife.

I wonder about what those buried here

would think about the world that exists around them now,

if they could have imagined the changes that have taken place,

if they think the world is a better place now?

As I lean against this sturdy pine

and stare down at my father’s shiny new grave stone,

I think of his story, the pieces that I’ll never know,

wonder what parts he would have rewritten if he could have.

I know he thought a lot about the past, those who came before us,

did he wonder, dream, hope about the future,

even the one that will exist in his absence?

Because he existed ten other people now exist,

and more will exist in the next generation and the one after,

what will we all collectively add to his legacy?

What stories from his life will be passed along,

and what parts forgotten

or scrubbed over and sanitized as often happens,

when we lift the dead up to sainthood?

How will his life be woven into the greater story?

Lastly, what thoughts will stir in my children and grandchildren’s minds,

when they contemplate my passing?

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