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Thread: A Walk Among the Tombstones

  1. #1
    Higher Entity Jeannie's Avatar
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    Oct 2014
    North Carolina, USA
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    A Walk Among the Tombstones

    Disclaimer: I like Lawrence Block and Liam Neason as much as the next person, but this particular walk has nothing to do with Matthew Scudder.


    I love to take long walks. Whenever the weather allows, I head out on foot to any number of places simply for the joy of movement and the peace of solitude. One of my favorite treks takes me alongside Cross Creek, winding through the woods, and then up into the city cemetery, the towering columns of long leaf pines replaced by the silent sentinels of marble monuments. There is something both timeless and fleeting about a graveyard. Each tombstone hints at a larger story--dry statistics etched into smooth surfaces measure lives in days, months, and years, but not in meaning.

    The first turn takes me past the children's section, where small plots and smaller headstones speak starkly of empty arms and emptier hearts. A Tickle Me Elmo teething ring, discordantly bright and cheerful, keeps company with stuffed lambs and toy tractors, scattered across the graves not to delight their young owners, but instead to decay slowly from wind, rain, and sun until they are as subdued and gray as the stones themselves.

    Past the children's graves, I turn again. Our local synagogue buries many of their dead here and some of the names also bear the additional legend "Holocaust Survivor." No Tickle Me Elmo here, but instead piles of small flat rocks.

    Another turn and a young woman--girl really--with Farrah Fawcett hair and wide eyes beams at me from the right. Next to her, a dark-haired boy smiles uncertainly. They look too young to be married. Younger still to be dead, the newlywed victims of mistaken identity and a drug deal gone sour. Buried beneath the soil here for far more years than they walked the earth.

    As I meander deeper into the cemetery, the graves become older, the tombstones taller and more distinguished. These names are familiar, but I am more used to seeing them on the sides of schools or on street signs than engraved on cold granite. These are the city's founding families, but here in our cemetery they are proven to be as mortal as the rest of the citizens. Death is, as they say, the great equalizer.

    A last turn takes me past a name I know more intimately. I always pause here to pay my respects to 34 years of friendship and a life taken shockingly suddenly. Sometimes I leave my own tribute, not a stone or toy tractor, but a couple of blooms or even a card. I still miss her and I often finish my walk among the tombstones with them blurring a bit around the edges.

    As dusk starts to creep in, I dip back under the cool North Carolina pines. Behind me the monuments to the dead stretch long and shadowy across the grass. Ahead of me the path melts into the quiet of another twilight, taking me through the woods and back to my busy life.

    Last edited by Jeannie; Mar 23, 2015 at 08:36 PM.
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  2. #2
    Timewaster jsw41's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Almonte, ON, CA
    I can only imagine the thoughts that go through your mind, different, likely, each time you walk there. When I had the chance to visit the Canadian cemetery near Beny sur Mer in Normandy, the first tombstone was that of a 19 yr old soldier who had been born 30 km from where we live. Very humbling.

    If you come to a fork in the road; take it, and then put it down so someone else can use it.

  3. #3
    Eloquently written, I love it!

  4. #4
    Bone Collector Bwana's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Deep in the Timber
    Wonderful post Jeannie, felt like I was along for the walk with you...very well written

  5. #5
    Member wschofield3's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Boston, MA
    Wow, Jeannie! That was beautiful! I too take walks among the tombstones once in a while and wonder what the people were like that have passed, who is mourning or mourned their passing and who celebrated life with them. We are insignificant specks in the universe, which for me, makes every breath so important to appreciate.

  6. #6
    Dinger of Hum Chronopolitano's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Litcherally, litchritchur!

    Beautifully written, Jeannie.

  7. #7
    lost in translation birdynamnam's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    It's amazing
    I don't understand all of your words, but I have the sensation to take part to this stroll
    Poetry is universal
    Poetry is the essence of living
    Thanks to share this moment with us
    "chirp, chirp"

  8. #8
    A very moving piece of writing, Jeannie, thank you for sharing.

  9. #9
    Old but Crafty RayMac's Avatar
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    Oct 2014
    Almonte ON Canada
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    I enjoy walking in old cemeteries as well. This historic one is just a stone's throw away from my place and contains the grave of the founder of Almonte, and his wife.

    Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

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