No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. ~John Donne “Devotions XVII”
This tree stands tall and broad. It appears gnarly as it has weathered time and elements standing guard over the loved ones of this small town. Great care has been given to maintain the grass. Loved ones have carefully tended the gravestones placing flowers, angel statues, and other loving sentiments.
Some monuments were large and elaborate while others were small markers. Some contained messages that told you something about the deceased or left you thinking. One was a grave of a teenage girl and the inscription read something like this “you were much too gentle and kind to walk in such a cold world.” There was another teenage girl a few years older buried beside her. Their deaths were a few years apart. Angels and teddy bears stood upon the edges of the stone. Some had fallen. I carefully placed them back in the spaces from which they had fallen. I felt as if somehow I was intruding upon something very private, but at the same time I felt these things should be put back neatly where they “belonged”. Would you have left these items on the ground where they had fallen, most likely blown by the stormy winds? I didn’t know these people or their circumstances at all, but a part of me felt their angst.
While we don’t know when “our time” or anyone else’s will come, perhaps this is a reminder to treat those dear to us with the same tenderness, love, devotion, and respect while they are alive as we would to their memory.
Have you planned your funeral? I know many people do this. They want certain songs played, poems read, or they want a particular gravestone for others to remember them by. I admit I enjoy singing funeral hymns…. My favorites are Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art”. One of those two have been played at most of the funerals I have attended. But you know me…I’ve never been a traditionalist. My favorite all-time favorite hymns are probably not suitable for a memorial but I’m going to tell them to you anyway. “Morning Has Broken” is tops. I love both “Here I am, Lord”, and “Lord of the Dance”.
Funerals and family or church cemeteries seem to be a big southern thing. My family has a private family cemetery while my hubby’s has a family plot at their church. Personally, I want to be cremated and have my remains (or is that cremains?) tossed into the wind at some of my favorite mountain and river haunts (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun there!) You know, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…tis the circle of life and death…
“Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson