Back in high school, I ran cross country. Running distance is a bit like saving for a vacation, you need to have quite a bit in the bank before the big day. Lots of miles logged prior to the meets. That was hard to do where I lived and during the time period I lived. There were no trails and berms on the side of the road where small. Sidewalks? What are these sidewalks you speak of? We would frequently run in cemeteries. They were safe, good surface to run on and to me, really very peaceful.
As I got older, I still spent time in cemeteries, less running… more looking. My aunt and I would travel around the area searching for ancestors and their stories. Taking pictures of stones, diligently recording dates and names. Documenting our history and finding more branches of the family tree.
I moved to a city that has lots of sidewalks and a lovely trail system… and still I am drawn to the cemeteries. There is one near us that I frequently walk. I have taught my kid to ride a bike there and then eventually practice driving (ok not without a few jokes about not hurting anyone while practicing).
Having walked in that cemetery for over seven years, I have favorite markers that make me reflect, the gentleman who was born in 1923 and served in WWII and makes me think of my grandfather. The markers of children who just have one date; they cause tears to well in my eyes remembering my Anna and I send out a mental hug to the parents of those angels. Those markers break my heart while also reminding me I am part of something much bigger and am not alone.
Mostly what I do when we walk in the cemetery, is fix flowers. Lots of times, even without a storm, vases have fallen over and flowers are strewn. Flags are tilted and touching the ground. People visit once or twice a year but life gets busy and the person of the grave you are visiting, would really rather you do something with the living and celebrate life. So I walk, straighten the flowers, learn about people’s lives, letting my imagination fill in the blanks and let my mind wander.