Our local cemetery is about a third of the way between our house and the nearest shops. It’s a beautiful place. Serene.
Today, of necessity walking to the shops, thanks to my broken wrist (I’ve been advised not to drive) I took the slight diversion it affords from the main road.
Just a few feet through a gate, one of the cemetery paths parallels the road. As you pass through the gate the traffic noise is hushed, as if by divine decree.
Actually, it’s because of a slight bank and newly planted monkey puzzle trees that lie between the graves and the outer pavement.
I usually find myself distracted by the angels, the weeping women, the carved books and inscriptions.
Mary’s name was nearest the top. She died in her 59th year in 1926.
George, her husband, died in his 60th year, in 1927.
A large gap led my eyes to the base of the obelisk.
There hid little Norman, ‘interred’ elsewhere. He died, aged 13 months, in 1906.
We can fill in those blank details in whatever way we choose. Or choose not to think about the three human beings who are no more. Their loves, their lives, their sorrows. And, in the case of Norman, the unfairness of that abruptly terminated existence.
Beneath the obelisk, on the pedestal, are inscribed the words:
‘Peace, perfect peace’
Which rewrote the story I had written in my head.
Well, that’s all I want to say, today, this eve of all the hallowed, the departed souls who are – if you are a believer – now in heaven. Saints, in other words.
When garish orange is everywhere and a witch in nylon robes serves me in my local bakery, the departed souls in the graveyard were a rather effective antidote to cynicism.
Now I must return to work.
May they rest in peace.