I had a bit of time on my hands, and I decided that I wanted to spend it in some kind of thoughtful, perhaps even meaningful way.
There certainly were many options from which I could have chosen if “meaningful” were my goal, but my inclination was always, from the get go, to do something reflective. I wanted to be thoughtful for a bit, focus a little, get some perspective.
So, as I walked, I came upon a very peaceful cemetery just north of downtown. I always feel a bit uneasy about cemeteries, not for the reasons you might think–ghosts, hands coming up from the ground and pulling me in, one-eyed caretakers with shovels, that kind of thing–but because of the extremely personal, sacred ground they are for a lot of people.
There’s another side to them, though, that fascinates me. As I entered these particular grounds through the south gate, I almost immediately found a stone with a woman’s name and her dates underneath it (Abigail Williams 1935-2001), nothing unusual. What made me pause, though, was her husband’s name next to her’s, but with only his birth date chiseled in (J. Robert Williams 1932- ) . His death date was not yet known because, presumably, he is still alive. That’s some kind of love. It’s been twelve years and he is apparently still planning on keeping a date. Some date.
I sat on the permanent bench, made from the same stone as the headstone. He must come here still, I thought. I wonder whether he’d mind if I’m sitting in his spot.
I looked around and then back to the stone once more. I felt a breeze on my face and my heart felt easy. That’s some kind of love, I thought to myself, once more; a relationship that is still going strong, even with death as an inevitable adversary.
I thought of my own wife and my own children. I thought of my friends and my extended family, my parents and brothers and their families. I thought of my former students. These are people I will always love, no matter what. I was comforted by this thought. I was comforted by this place. I was comforted by Mr. and Mrs. Williams and I’ve never even met them.
Thanks, you two. You still make a great couple.