Shall Be Missed

I haven't been back to the cemetery for a year. Last May it was miserably hot and humid as we silently stood by the gravesite tissues in hand and lowered her ashes into the ground covering them with songs, poems, and prayers. My mother-in-law lived less than six months after her diagnosis of small cell lung cancer, and most of that time was spent sick and confined. Dying was a release for her. An end to the discomforts of her body fighting a civil war and losing on all fronts. We saw a hawk that day at the cemetery as the ceremony ended, the large red tailed bird flying low over our heads. We saw it again the day we finished cleaning out her home. We watched it fly in and out of the wind currents with a harsh shriek, circling us, then leaving us for other spaces.

Today was not hot. It's a grey, rainy and chilly day. A perfect backdrop for Spring Grove Cemetery and the monuments built there. A "MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark, all the sweet green icing flowing down. Someone left the cake out in the rain..." kind of day. Thick luscious greenery thriving and abundant where so many bodies are laid for their final rest. We drove the narrow roadways searching for the statue of Johnny Appleseed that provides our landmark for Nancy's grave. There were flowers damp from the morning's rain, left from the weekend's visitors. The ground crew was mowing and clipping on the hill and the sound of motors droned around us.
I stood by the car while my husband stayed at the grave speaking quietly to what spirits might remain near. No hawks to be seen soaring above the gravesite today. I would like to think that she is free and flying, her fierce eyes watching all and letting go.
please note--photo by Jim M. Goldstein


  1. It's been years since I visited my parents' graves. They are buried about a three hour drive from my current home.

    The first few years after their deaths, I went there, and then after my children were born and life and travel became more complicated I stopped.

    In Belgium, I frequently saw people visiting cemeteries. All Souls Day is a national holiday there and everyone goes to the cemetery and decorates the graves. It's quite moving to witness the families honoring loved ones and the cemeteries covered in flowers and tributes.

  2. I used to think graveyards were rather creepy--except for Spring Grove which is a historical site here in Cincy and essentially a park. It's where we took our kids to learn how to drive and we've had picnics there, sitting and eating while others on their lunch breaks go running or biking. It's that beautiful.
    We ended up living with a Jewish cemetery in our backyard.It's smaller, but equally as well used by the living. I hope all the souls are content with that arrangement.


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