Posted by: dswerling | July 2, 2008

Upon Visiting the Grave of a Good Friend

I’d been forgetting about the loss of my friend Ally lately. Isn’t it funny how that happens? It’s amazing how easily humans can put away thoughts and emotions. Maybe things work out better that way. After all, it can be difficult to keep thinking about the loss of a good friend. On the other hand, we quickly forget our new years resolutions and the things we swore we learned. It’s unfortunate that this forgetting happens, but I realized today, upon visiting her grave, that it does.

The cemetary her grave is in is beautiful. It’s up on a high hill that looks over the whole town, and its sorrounded by a nice forest on three sides. Looking down you can see a country road with lots of homes stretched out, and the big blue sky seems to stretch out endlessly in front of you. When I first arrived there, I reflected on the cemetary’s beauty. Some cemetaries are inherently threatening, you walk in and just feel like the place is haunted (and here I’m not making a comment on whether or not ghosts actually exist.) This one is different. It’s a calm memorial place, where you can see the tragedy of every lost person, where you can tell that they are still loved and deeply missed. Perhaps my own loss forms this conception for me. In any case, I found the cemetary aesthetically pleasing.

I reached Ally’s grave and found she had no headstone. On top of the six feet of earth that covered her coffin were massive boquets of yellow flowers (yellow was her favorite color.) A humble little stand behind the flowers stated her name. I was dissapointed that there was no headstone. Perhaps her family cannot afford one? I do not know. In any case, there I was, staring down at her grave. Six feet below me, in a big metal box, lay the body of my friend Ally. Ally, the girl I drove to a friend’s party not three weeks ago. Ally, the girl who was in my van on the Kentucky Missions Trip last year. Ally, the girl who I got into an embarassing fight with at my girlfriend’s house and had to revise my understanding of forgiveness. Ally, so full of life an energy, gone forever, lying six feet below me in that big metal box.

I felt no more sorrow. The sorrow had been purged from me by long hours spent crying with my friends. I did not worry about the theological implications. I know there’s a God. I know Ally’s with Him now (she was a very devoted born-again Christian.) I know she isn’t suffering anymore. I know I’m going to be ok. Standing there, over the body of a friend I had loved and cherished, I was overcome by a feeling of absurdity. This girl had been vivacious, excited, and alive. Now she is dead and cold. Of course I believe in God. Of course I know that one day I’ll see her again. But the simple absurdity of this entire situation is overwhelming. It’s like she left. She just departed on another fantastic journey, and I have no contact with her, no way to know her except in my memories. She’s just gone. I can’t even explain how it makes me feel. It isn’t painful really. It doesn’t hurt me, it doesn’t make me mad or angry at God or myself or anybody else. The best way I can describe it is that it’s just plain absurd. It just doesn’t make any sense, and I know that if I stood in front of that grave, staring down at that patch of earth for a thousand years, it still would make no more sense to me than it does now.

The realization was humbling. I walked away from the grave, reminded that there are certainly things I cannot and will not ever understand, and that there are times when I must just trust, whether I’m trusting God, nature, or myself. However it was a strange realization to come to, to see the limits of my own thoughts. As I walked by other graves, I reflected on how for every person here were many more that had to come to the same realization I did, that had to miss those they loved the way I miss Ally. Now I’m just left to wonder if others reach the same conclusion I do. Do others see the idea of death as simply absurd? Do they try to make sense of it, or do they regard their attempts to be futile as I do? Do they immediately jump to not thinking about it, without even recognizing the whole situations’ absurdity? I guess I’ll never know. None of my friends wish to discuss it, and no one ever does. I suppose we all reach our own conclusions about this concept. However, seeing a good friend’s grave is to me an important reminder of how absurd our very existence in this natural world is, and how we must always be humbled and awed by the natural processes we constantly observe. As for the rest, I guess I just don’t know what else to say.

Rest in Peace Ally, rest in Peace.
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