I hate flat gravestones. I know they are practical. I know they make it easy to drive a roaring, chopping engine reeking of gasoline and indifference right over them. But they are not monuments to the dead, eerie and sacred like they’re supposed to be.
They’re just cheesy name tags, stuck to the ground after the conference is over.
My mom and dad are buried in a modern “memorial garden.” It sprawls a few acres past the funeral home; one of the visually confused, pointy churches that overtook America in the 1970s.
Their shared stone is flat on a lawn lined up with 100 others, like tenement housing. Nothing to distinguish them unless you remember to look somewhere between the (only) tree and the fountain that isn’t turned on.
I hate that place. Cemeteries should be beautiful. On hills, with trees and some overgrowth, and 200 years between the section at the top of the hill and the new section toward the bottom. I don’t want to be laid to rest in a corpse bullpen for all eternity. Big crowd of loneliness.
But today I drove an hour and a half to be there, and sat in front of their bland engraved rectangle. Again overwhelmed by the knowledge that his Lincoln Continental Gray coffin and her Cadillac Blue coffin, holding their bodies, Mom and Dad’s actual bodies, were right beneath me.
LE sat in my lap and when I started to cry she hugged me and let me rock her. That amazing kid, six years old with dirty blue jeans and a pink “World’s Greatest Sister” shirt. For once her endless squeaking question marks were silent. Her instinct was to give out quiet love, and she did.
In return, I kept my crying to a very gentle weep; enough to show her that grief is an acceptable feeling, but hopefully not enough to start teaching her she has to take care of me.
I’ve got to find a better place for her to go, when it is her turn. There must be a hilltop space left around here somewhere.