Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Post Square 12.03.13 ~ What Was Left of Her

Post Square 12.03.13 ~ What Was Left of Her

What was left of her
shadow on the coffin floor
bit of lace, a ring

When I saw the front cover of the Post today I made an audible sound that was something like “yeck”.

A picture of an archaeologist reaching his blue-gloved hand into a shallow grave where the only recognizably human thing is the gaping maw of a blackened skull.

Geez, I thought, what are these Post people doing to me? They keep giving me these depressing subjects that I’m supposed to find inspiring.

The article proved to be interesting as well as thought-provoking.

The story is about a small graveyard near Manassas, Virginia. The rough fieldstones that marked the graves under the dense overgrowth bore dates in the late 1800s. They were discovered by a survey crew in 2008. For some reason, this was not brought to the attention of the folks from the high school who want to build their football field there until most of the occupants had been exhumed and by then it was, as they put it, “too late”.

The occupants, come to find out, may be the ancestors of a woman, who happens to be a genealogist living in Manassas and she’s not at all happy about the removal of the graveyard’s contents. She feels that this family, who lived and worked on the land all their lives, expected to rest peacefully there for eternity.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to happen to my body after I die. Both of my parents were cremated and I’d thought that was my preferred option until it was brought to my attention what a dreadful waste of energy that is. Better to have yourself planted and let nature take its course.

But where? Why does it matter? I don’t think I want to end up in the land fill, I’m not sure why not, but I wouldn’t want any of my animals there, either. We buried Leo on a grassy hilltop where he loved to graze. The man who carried him up there in the bucket of his tractor told us that he placed Leo facing toward us, the barn and his stable mates. Why is that so sweet? I find comfort in knowing that my parents’ ashes are in the ground together behind a beautiful little country church where my father was a minister before I was born.

It is for the living. We have a need to treat respectfully the thing we understand best about our loved ones ~ their physical beings.

My only real concern about what happens to my body after I die is that I want it to be taken to my horses’ pasture so that it can lie there just long enough that they can sniff, nudge and paw at it until they understand where I went and that I didn’t abandon them. After that, I guess, it really isn’t going to matter.

The drawing is ink and colored pencil. The 11 little coffins (representing the 11 found and exhumed) are cut from heavier painted paper and glued into place. The haiku reflects a description of one of the coffin’s contents.

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