I stopped by this cemetery in the middle of a busy day to take gothic photographs for my Samhain blogpost. Unexpectedly, I ran across the graves of two friends of mine, David and Paula McDonough. He died in 2013 and she died this past year. I didn’t know they were buried in this cemetery. They owned the hardware store in my village and I saw them often, usually at the store but sometimes other places. The store recently sold, which felt wrong, even though they could hardly run it while they were dead.
My relationship with death is usually rather detached, especially in cemeteries. I visit this cemetery several times a year, at night or in the early evening, to watch the sky with other amateur astronomers. I pass it on the road regularly. The place is pretty, but familiar and even banal. I’ve decided this is where I want to be buried, so already it feels a little like home.
I can’t say what I was feeling today was grief, exactly, because we’re told grief is so many things. It is anger and guilt and sadness and apathy. It is trying to remember and trying to forget. What I felt today was a wishing that would not abate in intensity for being told it could not be satisfied. I disliked knowing that things never stay the same. Losing David was bearable while Paula was still around. She confided she didn’t care much for the store, but kept it going in his memory.
I stayed in the cemetery a long time, waiting for the feeling of emptiness and loss to pass, but it never did. Eventually a crow flew close to me and cawed loudly, and I left.
Here is an excerpt from the sixth tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh, recorded in the second millenium, B.C.E.:
Do we build a house forever?
Do we seal a contract for all time?
Do brothers divide shares forever?
Does hostility last forever between enemies?
Does the river forever rise higher, bringing on floods?. . . . . . . .
From the beginning there is no permanence.