I used to love cemeteries. Now I don’t.
When I was younger, walking through a cemetery satisfied my need to feel one with history. Because living in America isn’t like Europe. There, your feet travel the same cobblestone paths that dozens of generations before you did. But here, cemeteries seem like the only place that has any concentration of structural history.
My love for cemeteries died when too many of my loved ones were put into the ground.
The other day I visited the gravesite of my childhood girlfriend, Laurie Rooney. She grew up across the street from me and passed when we were only 20 years old. The first time I visited her grave was a few years back. But I was so overcome by imagining what it must have been like for her family to travel the same road that I had just come in on, that I hardly gave poor Laurie a thought.
This time though, my focus was entirely on her. Standing the customary length back from her headstone, I didn’t feel her presence, so I took off my shoes and stood on top of her grave. But I didn’t feel her presence there either. Instead, the same thing happened as the first time I visited: my attention kept being drawn to a big, beautiful tree that stood a few yards away. This visit, I went over to it, and that’s where I found my friend.
I pressed myself against that tree and gave Laurie the one last hug that I never got to give her, and asked her to please show my sister Jane the ropes. I feel pretty confident that she will.
I know this is a very weird thing to tell you, and probably an even weirder thing to do, especially if you don’t believe in the afterlife, like I do.
Perhaps it’s even weird to those who do believe. But even if it is, I know my angst was entertaining. Some maintenance worker that was watering graves a field over from where Laurie lay couldn’t keep his eyes off me. Every time I looked up to make sure that no one was looking, there he was, averting his gaze away from me.
I bet to him I was a far spookier site than the brethren who were getting a good soaking from his hose.
Sucks to be a grave worker. But maybe that job isn’t as bad as what we Americans are dealing with this election day.