Springtime Farewells

Tranquility, peace, and rest; these three words can sum up this particular cemetery as a whole.


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Purple Easter crocus flowers carpeting the ground under the trees in a rural graveyard

   When the fiery red petals of the bouquet of lilies peeked out of the weathered Shoprite bag, I was astonished at the sudden explosion of color on a Sunday morning. Mother’s Day was still weeks away, and there weren’t presently any birthdays in the final month before summer. 

   After the question of “why” was brought up, the answer I received was a melancholy one. May 2, 2021 marked my late uncle’s 58th birthday, five years after he’d passed. 

   I had never been to a cemetery before. Even at my uncle’s burial, my brother and I weren’t permitted to go, under the pretense that we were simply too young. 

   Five years later, I’d become more mature at the age of 17, and my uncle’s granite gravestone was merely 7 inches away from the tips of my toes. 

   A pre-existent notion of mine was that cemeteries contained an unbearably sorrowful atmosphere, much like the funeral home I’d attended when I was twelve. Suffocating cries of grief and a vision blurred by hot tears was a memory that I desperately didn’t wish to hold on to. 

   However, any doubt I had was soon whisked away by the gentle breeze that caressed the tips of each gravestone. The mild winds of May were neither blazing hot nor piercing cold. Rather, the beckoning winds seemed incredibly welcoming, as if anticipating our visit on this beautiful day.

   Upon setting foot on the viridescent sea of grass, tombstones of all shapes and colors rested among the swaying vines of trees and shrubs. 

   One was designed in the most intricate of ways, with its marble base retaining a mahogany hue. Three steps away from that gravestone was one with even more extravagant features, accompanied by two marble pillars that were standing proudly on either side. 

   But perched right underneath the swaying branches of a blossoming willow tree was my uncle’s gravestone, peacefully bearing five long years under the tree’s leafy curtain. 

   His gravestone stood proudly among the gravestones, where sunlight glinted off of its marble shine. The only blemishes that the stone retained were the silver and ebony dots of minerals that glittered over the smooth surface. 

   As the crimson lilies were laid against the stone, it was gratifying to see this pop of color amid a sea of monotone tombstones. 

   Tranquility, peace, and rest; these three words can sum up this particular cemetery as a whole. Rather than a cold memory, this place served as a sanctuary for tired souls. And rather than mourners, individuals came as visitors to occasionally visit their loved ones’ final resting place.