Before I moved to Holley, NY, I walked my dog in open fields that lay near my home. I do not have such fields available to me in Holley but there is a forest behind a nearby cemetery. I actually find it quite interesting to walk amongst the headstones on the way to the forest floor. The cemetery has been around quite a long time with stones declaring dates into the early 1800s.
The information provided by the headstones varies widely, with some just holding a name and age. Other stones list family members and the departed’s relationship to others. Very few of the stones mention occupation except that there is a section dedicated to those who have fallen in battle. I am not surprised that the most important aspect of a persons life is their relationship to others.
I read some of the headstones and think: what were they like; what did they do; who’s life did they touch. The stones report ages from a few days to nearly a hundred years. Death is indiscriminate. Death is no respecter of lineage, wealth or position. Scanning the headstones, I am reminded that life is so precious. Every one of those stones represent one or more persons. Each of those persons lived a life, no matter how short or long, that touched others. Their life is contained in the dash between the dates. However, the stones that record the death of a child make me wonder why they had died. Was a simple childhood disease that is now cured by simple vaccinations responsible for their early demise? Was it an accident that ended their short, sweet life?
Regardless of the age stated on the stone, I view their lives on this earth as short ones. I myself have been alive for more than five decades, and they passed so quickly. In the older part of the graveyard, the residents have been lying there much longer than they were ever alive. Some have been in the cemetery so long that the carvings in the soapstone wore away.
I like reading the older names: Hattie, Cedric, Lucretia, Judson, and Louisa come to mind. I also remember seeing Prudence and my all time favorite thus far; Silence.
We are here but a short time. Our names and dates may be etched in stone for centuries to come, or maybe not. It is the life we live, the lives we touch, the people we love that is important, now and tomorrow.
Each day is precious. We cannot reclaim the past. Once it has gone by, we cannot go back. We need to make each day count. Live life well. Let those you love know that you love them. Impact the world by your interactions with each individual. Change the world one person at a time.
The cemetery is a quiet place where stories remain untold. I will walk my dog through the grounds to the forest behind. I am sure the residents do not mind. I hope that this finds you well. I hope that you are fit and healthy. I hope that you will make that dash mean something. Take care.