Once people filled this small church in rural Mississippi, their voices blending in spirituals, hands folded in prayer. After the service, children ran past their parents to the front lawn, their patent-leather Sunday shoes pressing into the grass, Mothers calling out to them, "Don't you get your clothes dirty!" A line of people extends down the center aisle leading to the front door where the pastor greets each attendee, thanking them for coming. "It was a beautiful sermon today," most say, even those who nodded away during the hour, waking only when the preaching rose to the highest note. You always found peace on Sundays. Peace still resides here.
Silence pervades the cemetery, as if even nature understands that death resides here, and with death comes a forever silence. We fear the cemetery in more ways than one, maybe because death is a certainty; maybe because we do believe ghosts reside here with the headstones and statues and monuments. Haunted tales of the dead live for centuries and we cling to them, preserve them, tell them, deny them and believe them.
It's something we all fear--being abandoned, left alone to face the elements because no one cares anymore. The gates begin to rust, the stones begin to fade and discolor over time. Yet, they still stand, reminding us of the way we were, that someone did care enough to preserve our life here on earth through iron and stone and marble and flowers. Death and time can never erase memories...and we cherish them until we, too, become dust and our stones reach up to heaven.