One day, a few weeks ago, I walked among the dead.
Not my dead.
Strangers in an old cemetery a few miles from my house.
Thought I might take photos...that the setting sun might illuminate a particular stone or give a halo to an old weathered angel.
Instead I just carried my camera and walked among the rows of graves. Stopping to read a date or name. My feet crunched old brown leaves. The few trees were leafing out. A row of bedraggled evergreens stood guard along one side of the cemetery.
And I thought about life and how it goes so fast. How we can't hold our dead no matter how much we try, no matter how much we cry, they slip away when we're not looking.
I thought about those who have left us and how I miss them. My grandparents, my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins ... my baby brother ... My mother was so sharp, so smart, she would see right through your soul, and my father loved to laugh and loved to make me laugh. All those losses. Is that why we're ready to go at the end of our lives? Do the losses pile on until our spirit is ready to fly, to escape the burdens of sorrow? Or maybe we're ready to meet them again. Maybe we're tired of not being with them. Maybe we're tired of this earth.
I sat down in an old concrete bench beside a budding tree.
Across the rows, I heard a mockingbird and saw a robin. I watched a lonely cloud make its way across the pale blue sky. And I felt the stillness settle into me, the quiet calm that I call peace for the lack of a better word. I stopped thinking for a while, stopping imagining, stopped remembering.
For a few moments, the horizon held me. That beckoning sky. The endless heavens beyond.
Then I took a deep breath of the cool wind. I smiled for no particular reason other than it felt better than not smiling. I stood, walked back to my car, and drove back to my life.