Gone not Forgotten
Sunday, 6:05 am. I woke up, got ready to start my seventh day of work. I printed out my jobs for the day and gave my wife, who was still asleep, a kiss. I went to the boys room as I usually do before work and checked on them, then out the door I went and got in the car. My partner calls, ” Hey man, I messed up and fell back asleep. I Just woke up. I’m going to be late.” He said. "Well, I guess I'll go to Walgreens to pick up some stuff while I wait" I thought. I backed the car from the parking space and made my way to exit out of the parking lot. As I make my turn I notice a person standing in the cemetery that runs completely across the apartments I live in. "Huh, didn't know they opened the cemetery this early" I said to myself.
I arrived at Walgreens, went inside and grabbed some supplies and a couple drinks. "It's going to be a hot one today on the field" I said to the clerk as I payed for my items. I got back into my car and started to headed back to the apartments to wait for my late partner. As I was approaching the enterance to the parking lot I saw the person again in the cemetery. This time however I slowed down to take closer look.
He was an old man, maybe in his seventies or eighties. He was in slacks and a flower shirt. His head was was lowered either in prayer or reverie and it allowed me to view his head full of grey, thin hair. He stood very still at the foot of a grave marked only by an American flag. As I passed him up, I started wondering about the person he was there to visit at seven thirty on a Sunday morning. How much he must miss them. How empty he must feel to have the need be close to their resting place.
Was the deceased his brother, who fought alongside of him in the "great war"? Were they called to serve their country together? They left home with the belief that just as their parents protected them in their youth, they would now protect their parents, their family, their country from the growing threats of evil around the world. Was he forced to return home by himself? Does he visit every Sunday morning to show his brother that he is still with him, watching over his resting place now, the way he could not in war.
Were they brothers by bond? Did they meet shortly after the draft, young and scared in a time with much to fear. Did they stick together through camp. Did they encourage each other keep going when they felt they could not give any more? The bond they formed made it less fearful to travel to a foreign land and battle the enemy. They swore a blood oath to each other, brothers by bond and now by blood. After the war they grew and lived their separate lives. They had families and would only reunite on those special occasions. Was his friend finally claimed by time and nature? Did he travel from a far away home to pay his final respect to the person he credits for helping him make it through the most uncertain time in his life, the brother that made it possible for him to be standing there now in old age?
Was this the resting place for the love of his life? The nurse he met after being wounded in battle. The nurse he would ultimately fall in love with. Is this this the person that he swore he would be with till the end. Is his head down in reverie? Is he remembering his vow he made on that most special day with his nurse. Is he reminding her that the vow he made didn't mean he would love her till the end of her life, but that he would love her till the end of his. Is he remembering, as he stands there like a statue, of the years they spent together. The house they bought together .The kids they loved and raised together. The kids who were now grown and had kids of their own. Does he go there every Sunday morning, the day that he woke from his coma,over a half century earlier and first saw the woman he would spend every sunday morning after with. Does he stand there hoping that in some way, on that sunday morning, he would get to see his love, his life again.
Is this his child? The son he saw born. The baby he changed. The toddler he taught to read, the boy he taught to ride his bike. Was he there to visit the teenager who wanted nothing more than to follow in his father’s footsteps. To fight honorably for his country in this “new war” the way his father fought decades earlier. Is this old man remembering as he stands at the foot of this grave, the day his son told him he had enlisted. The day his son told his father, as a now grown man, “I’ll make you proud, father.” Did this poor man suffer the worst pain a parent could ever suffer, having to bury his child? Does he whisper to the heavens, “ I have always and will always be proud of you son.”?
I start to see through his eyes. He is me and I am him now. The memories I have created every day up until this morning and the memories I create every day with my beautiful wife, my handsome sons, my brothers and sister and my friends are the visions that are going through my eyes now as an old man, visiting the final resting place of this person that meant so much to me that i find it hard to let them go. So long as there is one person to remember them, then it is impossible for them to really be gone and just as much as they meant to me in life they will mean to me up until the day it is me in the dirt. I can only hope that when I am gone, someone’s memories and their love of me would keep my presence alive enough for them to hear my whispers on this cool summers Sunday morning floating in the wind; “Thank you. I love you”
“Hey man, Sorry I’m late.” I hear as my partner opens the passenger's door and takes his seat. I wake up from my thoughts and again, begin to back my car from it’s parking space. I head towards the exit and make my turn. As I pass the cemetery once again, I turn to look at the old man, the son, the brother, the husband, the father, me but he is no longer there. I continued on this seventh day of work with a subtle reminder that life truly is short and we should appreciate every moment we are given with the people that mean the most to us. One day we all will be the person at the foot of the grave missing someone and one day, if we live our lives right, we will be the person our loved ones will be remembering and missing. ….