The Company We Keep

So I hadn’t been to the cemetery lately. I think the last time I was there was just before Christmas, to see the flowers my mom had put on my Brother’s and my Dad’s stones.

I should go more often, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. What does make it easy is the fact that Tim’s grave is literally about 20 feet from my Dad’s — just two rows up and one spot over. (A weird form of convenience, eh?)

Sunday night, I had dinner with my sister and her family to celebrate her birthday. On the way home, I decided to stop at the cemetery. And, I’m glad I did. It felt good to stand over each one and say a prayer, whisper I miss you and tell them both how much they’d love to see Aidan and Erin. (And, if you’re wondering, I do actually say this out loud.)

But, while there, I noticed something this time more than I have at any other time. I noticed that if we in fact are judged by the company we keep, then my Dad and Brother are in pretty good shape. Wondering what the hell I’m talking about or where I’m going with this? Consider the following:

As I mentioned, Tim and Dad are close. Which is good. And, of course, Mom will be next to Dad someday.

There are so many other familiar names within a few yards of both my Brother and my Dad.

A guy a couple years older than my brother who grew up right across the street from us is in the same row as Tim. He was young, too, when he died — late 40s. Neighbors in life. Neighbors in death.

Another of Tim’s friends from high school died young — he was a fisherman, lost at sea. He’s about four rows down from Tim.

Another one of Tim’s friends isn’t dead yet, but his stone is there. The friend’s father passed away a couple months ago and the large family stone is there with my brother’s friends name already etched in the stone.

That seems to be a popular thing. My Aunt and Uncle, for example, are one row away from my Dad — but they aren’t dead yet. The stone is there and ready — to save some work for my cousins, I suppose.

The same goes for the parents of one of my closest friends growing up. They have their stone in and ready — and it’s just a row away from my Dad’s. My friend’s father and my Dad did a lot for youth sports programs in the area. Only appropriate, I suppose, that they are close.

There are two other families we knew growing up who have their stones all ready and are close to Tim and Dad. In one case, one of the parents is deceased, but not in the other. I have to say, this is going to sound weird, but in a way, it’s very comforting to see so many familiar names.

A couple rows away is the grave of another family we know — just the parents. The mom died two years ago, but the dad’s name is on the stone. It grabs my attention whenever I see it because she was my home ec teacher and is the woman who taught me how to core a head of lettuce and make french toast.

Speaking of teachers, my first grade teacher is also in this section of the cemetery. She died very young, too. She was my first grade teacher and her sister was my second grade teacher. These are things you don’t forget.

The father of another friend of mine from growing up is two rows down from my Dad. I saw this man every day when I was kid. He never said much, but the fact is, he’s still the Dad of my friends. And while we hardly keep in touch, I still think of them when I see their Dad’s stone — and I’m somewhat hoping the same thing occurs when they my Dad’s (or my Brother’s) stone.

And as if that’s not enough, the cemetery is also where one of my grandmother’s (mom’s mother) is buried. It’s also the final resting place for a girl I went to school with who died way too young. I used to have a crush on this girl and if you ever see my old class pictures (you remember the kind where there are the little circle head shots of everyone surrounding the large class shot), her’s is the picture I’ve circled. Because I used to have a crush on her.

So, if it is true that we are judged by the company we keep, then please don’t worry about my Dad or my Brother. They are (and will be) surrounded by friends and family — regardless of how often I visit.

8 Comments on “The Company We Keep”

  1. Sara says:

    This is surprisingly soothing, and really beautiful. It’s nice to know that we can surround ourselves by wonderful people forever.

  2. Pessimistic Redhead says:

    It’s nice to visit at the cemetery. I think it helps us, the living, to feel connected to those who aren’t around anymore. But truthfully, we visit with our deceased loved ones all the time–every time you think about them, smile about something funny they once said, find a card they sent you, or look at a picture. You visit alot.

  3. Molly says:

    That was really beautiful, Mike, and such a nice way to look at things.

  4. JenBun says:

    Exactly what Molly said.

  5. I love this post! I agree with Molly, a different way of looking at things!!

  6. Anna says:

    What a strangely comforting view of life and death. I guess we are really never alone, are we? What a great post.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful post, Mike. I agree with Sara on the “soothing” aspect. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you were able to find some comfort in something that has been so difficult.

  8. carrie121870 says:

    There is a strange comfort in visiting the cemetary. My dad too is surrounded by friends and family. I can only hope that the connections we make here, bring those we love together there.

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