It was just a field. Nothing spectacular about it. One of those spots on the road that you drive by every day and don’t see. They’re everywhere, really. Blank spots you pass by on your way to wherever. Occasionally, but not often, maybe a tree or a bush will catch your eye and you turn to look, but by then you’re already past. Moved on.
Then one day, you notice a sign. And briefly, you see. Were those … headstones? They were! And you think, for a bit anyway, “wow. There’s a cemetery there. Wonder how long it’s been back there?” And you drive on.
Now when you pass it, you may think “that’s that cemetery.” Maybe. Not as often as you think, though. It’s still a blank spot between where you came from and where you’re going, so it doesn’t register often. But every now and then you might notice it needs to be mowed. Or it was mowed. Or hey, is that fence new?
One day, when looking for something new to do, you read about that very cemetery. And think, why not – and go for a drive.
It’s a blank spot for everyone. As I drove up and parked, praying I didn’t bottom out the car on the approach, I realized how neglected it really is. How … wanting. I very nearly didn’t get out of the car – visions of some Stephen King-like wraith flashed through my mind as I sat there. But it was a bright sunny day, and except for some shadowy areas under the trees, it didn’t seem threatening. The grass, which was at least four feet tall, was threatening. But not the cemetery.
As I opened the door and stood up to look across the field, I felt – welcome. Then I thought of snakes. And made a decision to just do it – if I could chase horses as an 8 year old in a field much bigger and more neglected than this, I could still do it as an adult. And with that thought, I walked forward…and took a step back in time.
So many graves. My first thought was that there were maybe 30. But 30 was all you could see until you ventured in. All told, I probably saw about 40. But it was very obvious that there were many, many more under the grass. I’d guess at least 100 and probably even more. The headstones were so old and weathered that many were unreadable. One was just a wooden fence board. Many were tall, but others were small and broken. Or leaning at a crazy angle or toppled over completely. The latest date I could read was maybe 1923, near the front. The earliest near the back – 1884.
I never did encounter that wraith. I did find myself apologizing to those I walked over but there seemed to be no organization to the plots. Families were buried together, but only in a few places did there seem to be rows.
I feel drawn to those buried there. They have names and they have a story that should be told. I think it’s time to learn it.