I was out running this afternoon and I always run past this memorial cemetery and rarely do I give it a second’s notice. But I was at a tired moment and decided to take a stroll through. The sunlight was gorgeous and beginning to set which makes the whole cemetery idea much less intimidating and scary. I’ve seen too many scary movies about pet cemeteries and dead people coming to life to eat brains…gross. I place full blame on my brothers who forced me to watch them when I was little. Anyway, it’s hard to be afraid when it’s a heavenly day.
I wandered through the green grass and headstones, glimpsing pieces of the lives that have been lived. Some had lived to see the turn of two centuries; some had not lived to see a decade. Some lived long after their spouses had died and others lived less than a year. I would try and fit together pieces of lives from the little one can gather from a headstone. What had happened? What was their family life like? Did they have a good marriage? What must it have been like to live thirty years after she lost her son? I wonder if he died of a broken heart, he died one month after his wife. I just got to thinking about how obituaries always talk about so and so being survived by…a wife, a granddaughter or other relative etc. I never really understood that section. It felt like the listing off of a family tree. But I am learning the importance of survivors and surviving. When someone dies, there are others who must go on living, no matter how hard it may be. Life goes on even in the midst of tragedy and loss. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees reads, “It is the peculiar nature of the world to go on spinning no matter what sort of heartbreak is happening.” Anywhere there is death, there is also life.
I remember a sermon that Gary Haugen gave at Imago
He is the founder of International Justice Mission (IJM). An amazing organization that I hope to work for one day, if I’m lucky. He was one of the first people called in by the United Nations in the genocide investigation in Rwanda. He talked about how his first job was to sort through the bodies, the carnage. If that alone wasn’t overwhelming enough, he was able to meet with survivors of the genocide and hear their stories. There is sadness in the loss, and more sadness in the lives spared, the ones who now must live with the heartbreak and loss. In the midst of death and tragedy, he found life. It just got me thinking about living and surviving. I think there is certain strength in the word “survivor”, like the simple act of living is an accomplishment and a call to live well. So that was my lesson for the day, live well. Find life in the midst of death.