Thursday, February 21, 2013

Love In the Headstones

Finding Love Among the Headstones
Walking the Road Between Life and Death

Cemeteries aren’t the usual go-to place for lunch in a shady spot on a sunny day. However, I imagine it was no accident that I found myself eating lunch in one about 48 hours after I helped welcome my daughter’s first baby to the world.

Emma Renee Pickerill, February 15, 2013
After visiting my daughter and granddaughter in the hospital Sunday morning, my sister, my son, and I were ready for breakfast, maybe lunch, even brunch. It’s rare to find a restaurant without at least a thirty-minute wait on Sundays in the south. We drove past three places when we noted the lines and realized we’d be hungry for at least another hour.
I offered to cook at home, but we saw a Burger King with no lines. We received our fast-food order fast, as expected. My sister’s dogs were in the car, so we needed a shady spot to park and eat. I then spied the lane going into the historical cemetery off a road behind the BK parking lot.
Shadows of leaf-filled trees and pine needles as they waved in the breeze welcomed us as we pulled to the side of the dirt road between the two cemetery sections.
We enjoyed the cool respite from the sun as we ate our lunch. Cemeteries don’t bother me a bit. I think they are interesting and informative. I enjoyed seeing the ancient grave markers and inscriptions in centuries-old New England cemeteries when I lived in Massachusetts.
My sister walked her dogs down the lane and I explored the peaceful green area. As I strolled, I remembered that in fewer than 24 hours, I would be driving two hours to Sebring to celebrate the life of my father-in-law, who died at 90 a few weeks earlier.
I felt the opposite poles of new life—birth—and the end of a life and how we mark those milestones in our lives and the lives of others. I felt the new life of my granddaughter, yet I also felt a keen loss knowing we would celebrate the life of her great-grandfather in only a few hours.

Rollin Raimer Smith, September 7, 1922 - January 12, 2013 
Conflicting, yet complementary emotions crept to the surface of my psyche. I felt them both—embracing beginnings as well as endings.
It was then that I noticed a headstone like none I’d ever seen, yet it was so perfect for the moment.

Love transcends life, death, birth, space, time
A giant heart shape, it reminded me that between those beginnings and endings, yet continuing and eclipsing birth and death and time is love.
Love, love, love, we begin with love, we end with love, and transcending all beginnings and endings is love. Just love.

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