Melina Gunnett

March 5, 2011


Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Melina Gunnett @ 8:21 PM

I see dead people everywhere and I keep thinking about them.

It started on the way back from Needham the other day. The sun had actually come out to visit for a change, so I took the back roads and just enjoyed the drive. I passed a small cemetery by the side of the road and decided to get out and take a look. It was a beautiful place, surrounded by a piled stone wall. There was a layer of soft, thick moss covering the grounds. I was tempted to take off my shoes and just wallow in it, but somehow that didn’t seem appropriate. Most of the grave stones were old and more than one was askew, tilted from long years marking its owners resting place.

I found myself thinking about the people that lay beneath the green velvet carpet, wondering what they thought about this complete stranger stopping to read the short epitaph that was the only reminder of their existence. Some had died young, while others had lived long lives before settling into this spot for eternity. One thing they had in common, they had all passed so long ago that there wouldn’t be anyone alive that had actually met them. Unless they had gained fame and found themselves marked in the pages of history, the names and dates carved in stone were all they had left.

It was a peaceful place. Oak trees had scattered acorns across the grounds. Soon there would be little sprigs off new life arising from this resting place for the dead. I found myself thinking that it was nice to have little corners of our world tucked away to remind us of the past and those that came before.
I took a couple of pictures and proceeded on my way.

Over the next few days I found myself noticing graveyards – A lot – Everywhere. After a few days my perspective started to change. It was starting to seem like everywhere I went the dead were stacked up like soup cans filling the grocery store shelves.

If you go to any town you are going to find at least one, and probably several locations that are dedicated to nothing but the storage of dead people. One small graveyard was a piece of history, but this was more like unwanted parts rolling off of an assembly line. All that space. Instead of planting rows of crops, we set aside vast tracks of land to plant rows of bodies. OK, it could be worse. They could have used the space to build more big box stores, still…

It was starting to seem to me like too much of our world is given over to the dead. Cremation seemed like a much better option. It wasn’t like they were going to come back and need their mostly decayed bodies. The only use I can think of for that many dead bodies would be to raise zombies for an invasion, and that didn’t seem like a good plan. What ever happened to ashes to ashes, dust to dust?

I had pretty much come to the conclusion, that while I still liked the occasional old cemetery, for the most part they were a waste of space when I received a call from my step dad. My mom passed away in January. It was her time and I’m at peace with her passing, but my step dad is having a hard time with it. They met late in life (both in their 70’s), he loved her dearly and misses her terribly.

He started telling me about her grave. He managed to get her a plot at a new cemetery they had built near where he lives. He doesn’t go there every day, but he does go there often. He takes her flowers, carnations were her favorite, and talks to her. He even ordered one of those big double headstones and bought the plot next to hers so they can still be together when he passes on.

Hearing him talk about her gravestone made me realize the real reason we have graveyards. They aren’t for the dead, a place to park the unused body as it decomposes back into the elements it is made from. Graveyards are for the living. They are a place loved ones can go to remember, to ponder and to try to come to terms with their grief. They are there to give the living a marker, a place they can point to and say “You were important to me and even if you are gone, your life still made an impact and deserves to be remembered.”

A grave doesn’t have to be old to have history.


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