Sometimes I have to put down what I have felt in words to better come to terms with it. If this qualifies as a journal entry, it is just that.
I took a short stroll yesterday through the graveyard in which my grandparents lie. The purpose in mind, as any reader will have figured, was to pay my respects(though not necessarily to grieve). The weather was pleasant- the feeble sunlight of a waning afternoon stretching my trailing shadow behind me like a slingshot being poised to release. I remember wondering then, if by dusk our shadows simply meld with our bodies and our darkest intentions surface as a result. Putting it in ink, it seems like quite a morbid thing to be thinking about in a graveyard, I suppose.
It was a long walk and the breeze that had set in, grew stronger. I also remember wishing I had brought along my glasses because it seems to me that dust or similar debris seem to irritate my eyes more often than for others. The disparity in peoples’ visions is another thing I will never truly understand. My account of the day is not an eventful one. The stroll itself was longer than I imagined- the entirety of the trip, a stable amplitude of leather against concrete perturbing anxious ears.
The groundskeeper led the way, not speaking the entire time. I hoped he was tired, otherwise I suspected he would begin to speak in a dialect I would struggle to catch. After all, it would be disrespectful of me to ask him to repeat something repeatedly in the presence of the dead. Now that I am writing this down, it occurs to me that the dead must be quite used to seeing repetition; so perhaps it wouldn’t have been as grave as I’d first thought.
It had been years since my grandparents had died. The distance from my hometown and their rustic neck of the woods was always a detriment to the rather formal relationship we had. I grew up a metropolis-boy, now come to visit an ever-sprawling necropolis. My grandfather was the first to pass. It left my mother a shivering wreck- a sight of great bewilderment for an 8 year-old me, having just returned from school. My grandmother passed some 5 years from then, bringing with her departure the miasma of dread that stems from loss.
My only memory with my grandmother was of her teaching me to roll a six on a fair die with great certainty. I do hope she has ascended that great ladder I always skipped hurriedly past in arrogance.
There was naught but silence as I offered up my prayers. The groundskeeper had left already. I watched the chiseled concrete bearing the carvings of my grandparents’ names for a long time. I cannot remember what I had been thinking then.
I have been told often by those who observe that I rarely laugh. I do not know why this is. Perhaps because it takes a great deal for my emotions to be strongly evoked so as to be expressed. Or rather, I find it to be a flaw of mine to not be able to express myself outwardly. Inwardly however, every little thing causes a ripple. So numerous are the ripples that I cannot remember a time when the waters were still. Except for that day. As I glanced at each grave marker, sign, and concrete carving in the ivy’s green embrace, nothing stirred.
The dates, the dates, the dates:
Born 1924, Died 1973;
Born 1910, Died 1980;
Born 2000, Died 2003.
The identities, the memories, the people reduced to a pair of numbers. Grouped in the millions. Taking in this apparent tragedy, I sensed no dissatisfaction or anger permeating the air. No envy or greed or regret in the quiet grips of death. This realization made me feel small. Smaller than the shoes I’ve been walking in.
What happened next, cannot be attributed to a singular moment in time; All I can say is that this happened after my visit to the graves of my grandparents. A curtain has raised itself in my mind and behind it, where a venomous audience was to be awaiting a pitifully nascent display, there was nothing. All the expectation that I ever felt had lifted, dwarfed by a symbol of the end. And for the first time, it wasn’t fearful.
It was enough.