This past week, only days after Memorial Day, I ironically found myself attending 2 funerals and visiting 2 cemeteries. I listened to Taps from a Marine bugle, I watched a flag being folded and unfolded by 2 solemn officers, and I straightened plastic flowers at several grave sites.
This weekend marked my most profound visit to a cemetery to date. I stood over the graves of both my parents. It’s not something you anticipate having to do until your 60s, but I’ve already done it. Then I stood over the graves of my grandparents, uncles, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents.
And I could hear my mom’s voice in my head saying,
“Don’t walk on the graves. Walk in between them. See the space between the headstones? Follow that when you walk.”
“Read the stones. Someone lived a full life, and this is how they are remembered.”
Mom was religious about instilling in us a respect for the dead because, after having been widowed at 31, she was acutely aware of the value of life.
As I ambled through the Illinois cemetery, I reflected on its role in culture. With the current popularity of cremation, I wondered if cemeteries will one day become obsolete? What value, if any, do they hold for life? My own experience has supplied me with three reasons you should visit a cemetery. I will share them with you, on the premise that you will one day find yourself standing over the granite stone of a loved one. Continue reading