23 Sep 2023

Today, my daughter and son-in-law are at a cemetery for the unveiling of the new gravestone on the grave of his father and her father-in-law, George. Other family members are there too, thinking and remembering, and talking about George.

Being at the grave of someone known and loved is a profound experience. One is flooded with memories and emotions and wonder.

In 2021, as I drove alone from the North where I had lived for 71 years, all of my life, to my new home in the South, I stopped at the Stonewall Jackson cemetery in Lexington, Virginia, that had been renamed the Oak Grove cemetery. I went to the grave of my grandparents.

I left a set of roan antelope horns on my grandfather’s side of their stone, an animal that is now an endangered species thanks to people like my Pappy, a West Virginia farm boy drunk on the easy pickings of delicious and plentiful game. He had brought those horns, some of many trophies that he created, home from Portuguese West Africa in 1924.

At graveside, and also at random moments in my life, I wonder where are they now,  those people who were an enormous presence in my life, people who always loved me, and would always help me no matter  what.  Where did they go? How could they be gone?

How much has the hole they’ve left behind filled in?  That ache is no longer a daily presence after all these years,  although it can be resurrected in a flash, by being next to a brass and marble marker,  sitting quietly in the graveyard’s stillness.

Today, I sit in meditation, thinking of my dear family,  and suddenly have a vision of the entire universe and thoughts of my loved ones. Maybe after death, one goes to a place of light and stars and infinite void, filled with the spirits of every single living thing that has ever lived before. What if one spends the rest of eternity reconnecting with buddies, friends, and family? What if misunderstandings are cleared up, forgotten or let go in the joy of being together again, this time for forever? Who can say my imagined heaven is wrong?

Returning to the void may not mean emptiness. It could mean changing form to rejoin the place that was there forever before I was born, my lived experience of the conservation of matter.

I like this image.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.