I was driving home yesterday and passed the graveyard near my home. As I passed it I noticed a car coming the other direction. The reason I noticed this particular car was because it was slowed, almost to a stop. I looked at the driver and saw an older man, probably early 70's. White beard, wizened face. His eyes were turned up towards the cemetary on the hill on the passenger side of his car. He craned his neck looking up there. I felt a twinge of sadness for him. Perhaps he recently lost someone.Then I saw him cross himself and it filled me with questions. Was the prayer for someone he lost that was in the cemetary, was it a new loss? Or was he praying to he large crucifix that was in the front of the other less noticable gravestones? It made me think about many things that I prefer not to think about at this stage of my life. First, about those I have already lost. There are many. That is the single most negative thing about being 53. I think of the life I lived as a child and teenager and the people who were all part of my life then. Most of them are gone now. I thought I would be less affected by death because I started quite young. My dad died when I was 7 years old. It was the thing that would change my life the most. My mother remarried and moved us to the country where my stepfather worked in the coal fields.
It was so much pain that as a child I didn't know what to do with it. We didn't talk about it. No one counseled me and my older brother, no one even asked how we felt. Then top that off with the guilt we felt if we did mention our 'real dad' around our step father who was trying to be a father to us.
All of that having been said, I was 18 when my grandfather and favorite uncle died within two weeks of each other. The most significant part of that was that I had lived with each of them shortly before they died and was living at my grandparents when my grandfather died suddenly of a stroke.
Now at 53 my stepfather died two years ago, which felt about the same, maybe even worse in some ways as losing my 'real dad' because he had been our father for 44 years. I only know my birth father for 7 years.
Then all my favorite uncles died, great uncles, mother in law, sister in law, classmates. But this isn't diferent than what others experience. it is a part of life. Death. It's how we react to it, what we believe that makes the biggest difference.
The old man who I saw might have been saying a prayer for his own life, his own soul instead of a loved one.
What we believe about death, about afterlife, about a higher power will affect how we deal with death.
I believe in reincarnation. It doesn't erase the feeling of loss when someone I love dies. But it does give me hope that once again I will meet them. Not in the clouds, in heaven but again on earth or somewhere as a soul perhaps.
Life is short and we don't know that until it's almost over. All the days and weeks and years we wished to hurry by so that we could do something or be somewhere. They do hurry. The lesson, enjoy now. Be present now.