Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Decorating Against Death

Over the weekend I found myself walking in cemeteries. After helping friends lay to rest a beloved pet in an unmarked, but sure to be remembered grave, we traveled to the rural plot where their had parents buried. There I saw the largest crape myrtle I've ever been close enough to touch. The July sun was bright. A light breeze swayed the surprisingly green grass as I listened to two brothers remember their connections to the old place.

The next day I walked first the periphery and then the inner paths, if one could call them such, of another small graveyard. Though late afternoon, I tried to get under as much shade as I could because the sun kept creeping under the brim of my hat. Here, where I knew no one under the ground or grieving such, I noticed indications of people decorating against death. Among the markers adorned with the usual gaudy angels, plastic flowers, and flags of various sizes, near stones engraved with maudlin poems and scripture quotations, I saw wind chimes, a birdhouse, a teddy bear affixed to a cross, two huge ceramic cowboy boot planters, and even one headstone with an engraving of a dog and notes from a piece of music I would not recognize if played.

did we talk along the road
did we use many words 
forgive me any misunderstandings
while my thirsty mouth was wide open

I do not wish to diminish the importance of these objects to the people sleeping near them or to the people who want to remember their lost ones. I am sure many of the stories which tie the dead to their places of rest would stir even my hard heart. I am interested in what these objects say about those gone, but I am even more interested to know what they do not say. There is much about us that could never be said, though a single monument covered the whole ground.

These are the words, for lack of adequate expression, that remain and are most significant.

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