“When the dead weep they are beginning to recover” said the Crow solemnly
“I am sorry to contradict my famous friend and colleague” said the Owl, “but as far as i’m concerned when the dead weep, it means that they do not want to die…” Collodi – The Adventures of Pinocchio
A few hundred metres up the road from my house is a large well kept Victorian graveyard. In these grounds lay my Father who died in a car accident at the age of 24.
Having never visited the site, it was with a cruel irony that I moved into a house which was only a 5 minute walk away from his current resting place.
It is a Sunday and I am bored. The silence of my mind struggles to put its thoughts into words, this suggests that I should put on my shoes and vacate the four walls of my consciousness.
For some reason I resolve to go and visit my Father’s gravestone. Having never visited a graveyard before I feel obliged to take something to leave there; perhaps some flowers picked from the yard, or some wind chimes to break the imagined eery silence? Looking at the passport picture of my little boy next to my computer, I tell myself that however poignant, this is the most sensible thing to take with me to leave there.
I make the small walk from my house to the entrance of the graveyard and pass through its gates. The clouds in the sky are high and I’m surrounded by a boisterous wind that knocks me from side to side. The air is fresh and the sun still manages to brighten up the day.
Once inside I suddenly realise how big the grounds actually are and how difficult it might be to find the headstone. I decide to make for the small chapel in the hope that some kind of reference or layout might exist.
Walking towards small Victorian chapel I consider the layout of the headstones. Are the headstones arranged in some kind of order? If so, do they arrange them by year of death? Perhaps grouping them all by age?
Passing the headstones as I walk I notice the ages upon them.. 68, 76, 77, 84 considering the eternal frustration of a 24yr old’s spirit in such elderly company. Before having time to resolve the question of ageless souls I reach the iron gates of the chapel to find them closed and locked.
Turning away I begin walking through the headstones scanning each one as I pass them. 20 minutes or so I eventually find some from the year in which he died.
After fruitlessly looking at over a 100 different headstones I decide to phone my mum to see if she can help with my search.
‘Oh you know what i’m like with directions. I do know that it is big black and shiny, If i’d not have been surrounded by hundreds and hundred of ‘black shiny headstones’, I may have unwittingly found this useful.
Armed with this bit of gold I decide to walk to the other side of cemetery which is closer to the road and some newly built houses.
The air here is not as deathly quiet and the sound of children playing in the nearby houses colours the atmosphere
Its here where I eventually read his name on a headstone not more than 3 metres ahead of me I stare at it and after a fleeting visit of butterflies in my tummy I approach it.
No epiphany nor bolt of lightening.
As I squat down to pick away the moss that has grown around the base of the headstone, i feel a strange familiarity tinged with a sense of sadness. My eyes well up and I fumble in my pockets for the photograph I have brought with me. I find the small picture of my son and wedge it between the big shiny black headstone and its base.
I’m buoyed by the fact that in this corner of the cemetery one can hear life in the nearby houses and bustle from the main road. I turnaround and am about to walk back towards the gates when I suddenly remember to check the neighbouring headstones. Thomas, 28 yrs old.
I begin trudging towards home. I don’t feel different but It felt good to get out of the house.