Some days ago I went to visit my Mom’s grave because I haven’t been there in a while but when I finally got there, I couldn’t turn around fast enough. It’s not that I don’t miss her – because I do. Only, I felt extremely out of place. Including the funeral, I’ve been there three times now – three times in over three months.
My Grandpa died 20 years ago and I don’t have live memories of him. Everything I know is because of the stories Granny told me. There are images of their lives together in my head that I never saw but I can still see them. I remember him being sick, and then Granny wearing black clothes and skirts for a long time. I was still in kindergarten back then and I don’t remember much of that time either. I didn’t go to his funeral.
I also didn’t go when about two years later, my great-grandma died and shortly afterwards Granny’s younger brother. By then I was in primary school and I went to classes instead of the funerals. I think Mom and Granny made the right decisions there.
As I spent my time after school at Granny’s we went to the cemetery together quite a lot in order to take care of the graves. Granny always needed a moment to gather herself before leaving but it never meant that much to me. I remember it being boring and tedious unless it was fall and the leaves of the big chestnut trees were falling down, me collecting chestnuts, trying to fit as many of them into my small pockets as possible, jumping into piles of dried leaves. But the cemetery was never a place I went to when I wanted to be close to someone I lost. I never go there on birthdays or the days they died. I had other ways.
Every time I needed guidance or someone to listen but not answer or make me feel less alone I moved my gaze to the night-sky and the stars that were shining. When I wanted to tell Grandpa something, I directed it to the stars and the clouds above me. Poured my heart out to the universe. Graves don’t hold anything for me, I don’t feel closer to the deceased there than any other place except when I look into the sky on a cloudless night.
The infinity of the universe is where I believe all people go once they die. I cannot know if that is actually the case, or if Mom and Grandpa finally reunited there after Mom was called in in September. But I like to think of it that way. I like to think they can watch me and the rest of my family – keep in touch even though they cannot actually answer my questions. I know they are there, as childish as that may sound.
Standing next to their rotten corpses or burnt ashes doesn’t do anything for me. Flesh and bones are not what a person makes, it’s just a shell we need. So, no, a cemetery is not my place. I know Granny needs to go there for whatever reasons I cannot fathom, but I don’t. I have them with me everywhere I go – in my heart and the stars above me.