Saturday, April 9, 2011

the living

We live on a very quiet street in our town now-- quiet because it's the next street over from a graveyard. It's a little strange to be this close to grave sites; during the week I can see employees of the cemetery mowing the grass or preparing a grave with heavy mechanical equipment. Business as usual. The only time it's not as quiet is when there is a burial. To see one car down the street is not unusual, not so much two in a row either. But fifteen in a row, and I know it's a burial procession-- a line of cars that have travelled here from either a local funeral home or one in a nearby town, rarely led by a police car, accelerating or slowing depending on the speed of the hearse at the front of the pack, trying desperately to keep together.

I suppose I think about death a lot, and not often in a unemotional, scientific way. I'm afraid to leave those I love, afraid of how my leaving would affect them. Afraid of my boy and my husband dealing with the loss, not really a loss of me, but of a wife, a mother. So I notice when these processions occur, and take note, and wonder about the person who died, who joined in the line of cars to come see their body laid into the ground, the wife or husband or child that is having one of the worst days of their life.

I just heard three shots of--I believe-- a musket or something like it. It woke my boy up too. I don't know what it means or what it honors about that person's life. But it's that intersection that interests me too-- where death intersects with life. Where the honoring of that person with gunshots woke my baby up from his nap. How it feels to those at a burial who look up and see my husband and his friend grinding tree stumps in the backyard, preparing to put up a fence. Life continues without a beat missed-- and this is what is both heartbreaking and life-sustaining to those in grief. The living bury the dead and then-- eat lunch. Take a nap. Turn on the television. Do yard work. Get their baby up from his nap. Continue on.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you express yourself. Yes, I have always thought it was strange that we eat right after the funeral. But I think you are right, it is a way of going on and affirming that life continues. I feel this way when I am working in the hospital and hear them call a Code Blue. I stop and say a quick prayer for the family and loved ones of that person who is right at that moment, possibly dying. Then I go on with my work..