Monday, July 28, 2014

... cemeteries, graveyards and memories, oh my!...



She loved animals. Fitting the cemetery is across the street from a pet cemetery.

Yesterday was the funeral. After my long rant about funeral homes, I decided that I could and would skip going. I’m not sure if a stranger or even a loved one can reveal anything about one’s own friend during the service inside the funeral home, and I knew that I would be so distracted about all that I loathed that it wouldn’t penetrate me anyhow. Instead, I opted to go straight to the cemetery which happily is across the street from a pet cemetery. Graveside seems more honest. Some might give me the stink eye or say that I was obligated to go to pay my respects to the family; after all, I am culturally Southern but I’ve made peace with my decision. For me, it was right.
Today I decided to call out of a meeting for work. I’m not going into the office daily during the summer but today (and tomorrow) this week I have scheduled meetings. I was initially annoyed that when I called out of today’s meeting, my colleagues asked if I would be in tomorrow and could we postpone until then. I’ll go back on Wednesday. The Victorians had weeks and weeks of respected absence from work and social events depending on how close one was to the loved one. I suppose by today’s standards, I have two days. Or at least I forced two days. Perhaps if she were a parent or a child others would respect my grieving period.
I did do some work from home. Really, I’m just not up to being around a large group of people. I don’t want the questions “how” because the answer isn’t pretty. The answers never are but this type of death leads to follow up questions that inquire “why” and more “how’s” and while it isn’t anyone’s business (it isn’t any of my business), it is human to wonder.  
Much of my day was headed to Olivet Cemetery in New Kent, Virginia. One of my very best friends, who was really more like my sister, is buried here with her husband. She died just shy of turning 30. She would then correct me and say that she died in April and her birthday is in February and in no way was she even close to 30; but to me who celebrated nearly every childhood birthday together (having our birthdays two weeks apart), she was almost 30. The almost matters because unlike some who grumble about their birthdays, I toast each year that I *made it*. I have outlived 17, 18, 17, 17, 19 and 29. Now I have outlived 38. It’s always sad that my friends could see another year. What if they could have lived to 18 or 19 or 20 or 30… wouldn’t an additional year have mattered? I am fortunate not to suffer from the level of chemical imbalance one must have to take one’s own life. I have loved ones who fight this; and, I have loved ones who lost their fights.
Olivet Cemetery is creepy and it has always been creepy to me. New Kent County, the tiny place East of Richmond, VA and West of Williamsburg, VA was the birth home of our first U.S. President’s wife, Martha Washington.  The graveyard (I’m using the technical term since a graveyard adjoins a church and a cemetery does not) is off a winding back road. There is hardly a gravel parking lot. I mostly noticed dirt. On the property, there are large Oak trees stretching out toward the heavens, and there is woods surrounding what must be less than an acre.  Built in 1856, Olivet Presbyterian Church is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is a small frame church building in the Greek Revival style. It features four fluted Greek Doric columns. It would be perfectly charming if it weren’t in the middle of nowhere, and I weren’t alone. There used to be an old shed or outhouse on the property. I always felt like someone was watching me before it was torn down.
While there I put flowers on her “Poppy’s” grave. Her father passed away six years after she was killed in a freak boating accident; like my friend, he passed before his time and was not yet 60. His funeral saved my life. It’s odd to think back on it but I was sitting in the church where I had buried her, where I had been in her wedding, where I had sat beside her during church as children, and this preacher who didn’t know me or even my friend (because he was a new pastor to the congregation) gave a sermon where he repeated, "Don't fake your life". I’m Catholic so maybe it was the rhythmic preaching or the repetition of his words that touched me because it felt so different from a homily but I truly believe that that message was directed to me… and most likely the one who was channeling the message was my late friend. I went home that afternoon and confronted my now ex-husband about our sham of a marriage. There were so many things that were wrong and I was so unhappy. Poppy’s funeral opened my eyes. My friend had always been the one who helped me see what was honest and true. She was doing that again even from beyond.
They have a directory. It's weird to see my friend’s name listed.

I had blue flowers because they were her favorite color. The blue dye got all over my hands. The whole adventure there was a mess and I felt like if I really listened I could hear her giggle.
Olivet Church is in the middle of nowhere. There's nothing around it but woods. I swear I can always hear something. Today while there, I sent another friend a text saying that the place was creepy. She responded, “When a girl who loves cemeteries thinks it’s creepy, it is!”


5 comments:

  1. (((HUGS))) That's all. Just hugs.

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    1. I'm practicing retail therapy and browsing Zappos to find similar shoes to the ones you posted (in Mickey ears with the hearse behind you). Those shoes are amazing!

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  2. Good for you for deciding NOT to fake it by attending the funeral when you didn't want to. I'll bet your friend would have been pleased.

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