Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cemeteries and Memories

Standing in the family cemetery yesterday morning with so many of my extended family brought back memories of having been there before. Too recently, I had stood in nearly the same spot thinking about the fragility of life and the end that I will someday face.

The minister's words of comfort and of the assurance of hope were almost overcome by the grief of the moment. I believe those words and I know they are true--I just wish I didn't have to experience these times in order to really deal with my hope in the future. I can't understand why we have to experience such soul wrenching sorrow in order to be convinced of the promise of eternity.

After the reason for which we had gathered, I was privileged to walk with my Mom around that cemetery to revisit the final resting places of many relatives. I remembered happy days and parties and celebrations. I thought about a trip to the old, now gone truck factory with an uncle. I remembered visits to great-grandma's house when I was a young boy. One visit was during the Cuban Missile Crisis and I remember being scared by the discussion about missiles and the "bomb" that the adults were having.

Cemeteries are peaceful, by design. And our walk was satisfying and unhurried. The monuments all have a story about a life that they represent. Walking next to my Mom, I reconnected with my family and my history. As we walked, I also learned about many of her teachers and friends who have already passed.I heard stories about how they were related and how they had interacted. So many people and so many memories still alive in her mind and now mine. I have never been afraid of cemeteries and have always been in awe of the histories of the many lives that can be uncovered.

While often called the final resting places, I know that our loved ones are not there, they have moved on across the bridge into eternity. As a result, I prefer to think of cemeteries as a place to pause and find the stories waiting to be rediscovered and memories to be rekindled.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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