all around us

Today was Cemetry Sunday. The Blessing of the graves. Time for the annual clean up. Show up with fresh flowers, say many and various prayers and catch up with all rabbit’s friends and relations. Remember why we don’t normally park in the carpark for this event- 45 mins to leave.

The priest reminded us that God is everywhere; the dead are with God; therefore they’re all about us too. Our loved ones haven’t really gone away, they’re all around.

Well, sometimes I wonder about God, but I know my loved ones are around. They’re in my head and my heart, in my stories, my laughter and my tears.

As we looked at the spot where our parents and grandparents lie, Cousin wondered aloud about how things would change in the incoming year. Bad move, Cousin. I’d rather not think about imponderables. When I’ve something to worry about, then I’ll worry with the best of them, but I haven’t the energy to spend thought on vague nothings.


Then I came home to discover that the horror Helen was talking about affected a family I knew. Folk I haven’t seen in years, but always think of fondly. People I spent a long summer with in New Jersey. The people who helped me discover that whiskey isn’t good for me. The young woman who showed me that it was possible to be feminine without fear of losing brain cells. A young woman I was a little in awe of- she had a career and a relationship and poise and skills, while I was still a daft mess. The young man who refused to wear his glasses, and who made me laugh. The young man I knew to be a great teacher, an inspiration and a friend when I needed one.

Today, that couple buried their son. He was 18. Not that much younger than they were when we shared an apartment on the Jersey shore. His parents are fine people; I hope they relearn the ability to laugh and to love the world. I hope they find their son with them, wherever they are.


12 thoughts on “all around us

    1. Unfortunately, they are not the first couple I know to have buried a child, but this one hit me hard, probably because I always think of them young themselves.

  1. Sad news about your friends’ son. Very hard to bear.
    Cemetery Sunday must occur at different dates in different places. The chapel up the road from Cousin’s has it in August, and the day before families are busy weeding and tidying.
    Mother used to always do the round of family graves when she was in NI. I am less keen. I remember my grandparents in various places, but not particularly at their grave sides. And the place where my father’s ashes are buried has no sense of him at all. We want them exhumed and scattered with Mother’s.

    1. I’ve been visiting this graveyard my whole life-parents, grandparents and great grandparents within feet of each other. Goodness knows where I’ll end up- anonymous council plot somewhere!

  2. Very sorry to hear about the death of your friends’ son, Fiona.

    We did cemetery Sunday last weekend with my mother. I didn’t realize other countries did it, too, but it makes sense. Where her forbears settled is very Scots-Irish.

    1. I’ve learned the value of it over time, Andra. There’s a strong ‘gathering of the clans’ aspect to it, so we get to see those friends and family we may not see often

  3. This is very sad news, Fiona.I’m really sorry. I do feel my loved ones around me, too, and I find it very comforting. I do hope your friends have a strong social network and family to help them through this really difficult time. Way too young!

  4. I have friends who went through that pain a month ago. A son. A young man. When I heard, I wanted to hold my daughter and hug her & assure that she was loved no matter what. I couldn’t, she is 125 miles away, but I will be able to do so in the near future.

    When we have children, we need to watch, look and listen. Listen and not just hear. We need to listen to the silence too, Sometimes the silence speaks volumes.

  5. I am so sorry, Fiona. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of losing a child. It is the thing that scares me most. As I was reading of you at the cemetery, I thought of this beautiful poem by Billy Collins:

    Cemetery Ride

    My new copper-colored bicycle
    is looking pretty fine under a blue sky
    as I pedal along one of the sandy paths
    in the Palm Cemetery here in Florida,

    wheeling past the headstones of the Lyons,
    the Campbells, the Dunlaps, and the Davenports,
    Arthur and Ethel who outlived him by 11 years
    I slow down even more to notice,

    but not so much as to fall sideways on the ground.
    And here’s a guy named Happy Grant
    next to his wife in their endless bed.
    Annie Sue Simms is right there and sounds

    a lot more fun than Theodosia S. Hawley.
    And good afternoon, Emily Polasek
    and to you too, George and Jane Cooper,
    facing each other in profile, two sides of a coin.

    I wish I could take you all for a ride
    in my wire basket on this glorious April day,
    not a thing as simple as your name, Bill Smith,
    even trickier than Clarence Augustus Coddington.

    Then how about just you Enid Parker?
    Would you like to gather up your voluminous skirts
    and ride sidesaddle on the crossbar
    and tell me what happened between 1863 and 1931?

    I’ll even let you ring the silver bell.
    But if you are not ready, I can always ask
    Mary Brennan to rise from her long sleep
    beneath the swaying gray beards of Spanish moss

    and ride with me along these halls of the dead
    so I can listen to her strange laughter
    as some crows flap in the blue overhead
    and the spokes of my wheels catch the dazzling sun.

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