Visiting the graves of members of my wife’s family today, the sobering thought came to me that, once, such visits mostly involved names of people that I had never personally known or, at best, only vaguely remembered.
My grandfathers both died before I was born, for example, and both of my grandmothers died when I was five. My paternal grandmother’s Norwegian accent is barely retrievable at the margins of my childhood memories; I’m not sure that I actually remember my maternal grandmother at all beyond her photographs.
Increasingly, though, we visit the graves of people that I remember very well. Today, it was my wife’s maternal grandparents and paternal grandmother, her great aunts and an aunt and an uncle, and, most recently departed, her mother. Only a few weeks ago in California, it was my parents and my brother. All of my aunts and uncles on both sides are gone but one. Good friends have died, some of them long ago.
I think this is one of the factors that makes it relatively easy for the aged to pass into the next life. Many of the people they have known and loved best now live elsewhere. Death for them doesn’t represent an end, but a reunion, a resumption of relationships sundered by the grave.
I feel it surprisingly so myself, though I’m not yet eager to depart. I can only imagine that the feeling grows stronger for many as time passes and as more and more friends and loved ones slip beyond the veil.