The path we must follow

We walk right up to the thick metal gate, push back the latch and enter another world.  The grass is short and lush, a velvety carpet that invites you to walk barefoot below the trees.  Only small rays of the gently fading sun are allowed to peak in through the gathering of branches above casting strange shadows across our faces.  We are wrapped in the quiet comfort of a foliage cocoon.  It is peaceful here, if one is not unsettled by the surroundings of death.

There are no rules, but the quietness of the place hushes us to whispers.  It is as though we are walking on a sacred ground that we don't belong to or own.  We are alive after all, making us foreigners to the setting; strangers to the silent stones that had been set in their place too many years ago.  They are sunk down in the earth with their tragic cracks and coverings of bright green moss.  The names of those who laid silently below are carefully etched in ancient script.  We read them all.

And here among the past I settle solemnly in my thoughts.  Each marker represents a life.  Most are young.  I move to the far back of the outdoor sanctuary, and find a name that meets my lips daily, "Eliza."  The dates confirm that she was barely a year old.  Right next to that grave is another small marker, her sister also a child was placed there one year earlier.

The tragedy of the moment hits me.  My heart cries heavy tears as I shudder between breaths, but my eyes remain clear.  I am injured by the melancholy of my discovery, and I can only imagine the circumstances that brought another mother here.  Surely she wept in the very spot that I am standing.  I am both lost and found in a story that I don't even know.

I am now surrounded by children, my own.  They are awake and alive, and they are counting up the years lived by the ones beyond our reach.  The numbers are too small, and already we have surpassed them in our days counting.  The unbalance of it lifts my spirit to a posture of gratefulness.

We speak of death and how we must all come to it.  It is an inevitable passage that we will walk, and not one of us know when our name will be called.

We could be buried beneath the weight of reality, but we are saved by the hope of a new tomorrow.  We cradle the promise that the end of this life is only the beginning of a new and better one.   And I tell them how it's okay to be sad, but to never despair in the distaste of bitterness.

Hand in hand we leave the cover of trees, past the gate that squeaks and back into the lives that we have been given.


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