The kids and I were walking through the [name] Cemetery peninsula. We usually hang out by the really old headstones; the ones you can barely read. Some simply say R.I.P. with no name. Once in a while GirlChild will hover around plots that are obviously for babies or children, and she’ll pick weeds or straighten the stuffed animals and tokens left.
BoyChild took off to look at “the shiny graves” – recent additions in the last 10 or so years. I never go to those because they are not historically interesting to me and I don’t want to be skulking around randomly should a mourner come by. This time, we followed BoyChild.
GirlChild and I were picking up trash as we found it. I literally walked around a tree, bent to gather candy wrappers, pointed out a foam cup to be picked up, and straightened face-first into a dear friend’s headstone. A friend I was unaware had died. I started bawling and terrified the kids.
This friend is someone I’ve known for most of my life. Someone with whom I’ve shared pivotal times, important lifetime events. We lost touch as a century slipped away, around the time I was pregnant with BoyChild. But when I moved home in 2007 I tried all the old addresses and phone numbers. Just that week I drove past the family home by chance. The name on the mailbox was different so I’m sure they moved long ago. I wrote a note, reminding myself to look up the mom sometime soon with intention of finding my friend. Two days later I’m standing at a headstone dated 2006.
Every person with whom I was friends, from 4th grade through my first year of college, knows this person was an important part of my life. How is it that no one in 6 years has mentioned this death?
I’ve done some digging around online, found the brief obituary from ’06 and a blurb in a newsletter marking the anniversary in ’10. Knowing this person as I do, I suspect a larger tragedy than simply passing away. I’m purposely being vague with the identity because I want to find out on my own now. I don’t want to say this friend’s name and have someone in town offhandedly remark, “Oh yeah, died in 2006 of ________”, like it was no big deal.
We had a soundtrack, this friend and me. From the moment we met we were musical soul mates. Music was the foundation on which we built a wonderful friendship. While other kids were listening to the Top 40 of the early 80’s, we had The Beatles and The Moody Blues. We’d sit for hours, not saying a word, thumbing through books, just listening.
One September night, in the early weeks after we’d both gotten our driver’s license, I received a phone call.
“Get over here. It’s going to rain soon.”
By the time I arrived at my friend’s home, the dark evening sky was drizzling, wetting the black top of neighborhood roads. Streetlights blurred above us, reflected on the wet of everything around us. We walked late into the night, sometimes talking, mostly silent. When we were drenched and cold began to set in, we returned home, wrapped ourselves in towels warmed by the clothes dryer, and flipped through vinyl and cassettes while Sgt. Pepper, The “Red Album/Blue Album”, A Question Of Balance, Days of Future Passed played. So began a tradition that lasted until I moved away from Minnesota. The rain, the walks, the music.
3 thoughts on “Music Monday: Melancholy Man and saying goodbye.”
Interesting parenting time you have. Why not have your kids start writing prisoners, pen pals – maybe not dark enough for you as hanging out in cemeteries. There are amazing ways to teach children about history, and yes I have found locating old headstones, seeing what the oldest I could find very interesting – but at the same time I was locating family members – this would not be something I would do as an activity for my children if we were not locating family. Basically you are teaching dark melancholy ways to your children. If it’s for historic value, go to a cemetery that is for that. It is actually quiet rude and disrespectful for you to be there for any other purpose.
And your friend – you really couldn’t have been that close – rather, you are being overly dramatic. Your friends family would have known the closeness you had and therefore would have informed you or a family member of yours.
Normally I would simply delete this kind of comment. Although I must say, I’ve never been gifted such insight on a writing/editing blog, on a post about music. It’s a small town, and since you live here, perhaps you could speak with me directly if you have some undisclosed problem with me.
How ill-mannered of you. Quite simply – “if you have nothing nice to say… ”
Why waste your time being negative on someone’s post? If you don’t like something you’ve read, roll your eyes and move on. It is rather presumptuous of you to comment on any family’s parenting time other than your own.
“GirlChild and I were picking up trash as we found it.” We go to parks and cemeteries and elderly communities to pick garbage off the grounds. Resources of the parks department are limited, so we help where we can. There is one little man entrusted as grounds keeper and we help him keep the cemetery clean. I am teaching my children to be responsible citizens in our community.
All cemeteries are “for that”. They are a record of the human condition, a place of history and respect. I am not taking my children on midnight adventures or disrupting the resting place of anyone. This particular cemetery is one of the oldest in the area, on the historical registry, and a proud nod to the history of our town. Historical value or not, we (again) are there to pick up garbage. My daughter, being a child herself, likes to take care around the graves of those who passed early in their lives. The newer areas tend to be cleaned by visitors, so we help out where the need is greater – in the older parts of the cemetery.
Which is why I clearly state “I don’t want to be skulking around randomly should a mourner come by.”
Again, you are a smug and presumptuous individual, aren’t you? “This post is a condensed amalgamation of a journal entry and a letter I wrote to a friend back in April of this year.” This happened five months ago. In the interim I have been in contact with the family, who have purposely not drawn attention to the death. I still make no direct reference to the deceased’s identity out of respect. The family would not think to contact a school-friend who moved away almost 2 decades ago. I have many friends with whom I attended school, some considered the closest of friends at the time, who I did not have contact with until recently, due to my return to Minnesota. (But you already know that, as you have also reconnected with people recently. Isn’t Facebook wonderful?) Of those friends, the married or blood families would not know to contact me, just as mine would not know to contact them. In our adult years, we grow and have new lives. As adults, my family and the family of this friend, would not know we’d kept in touch by phone or letter despite 1500 miles between us. I guess I could be assuming too much on your part… I know I, as an adult, do not keep my parents privy to my every deed. “We lost touch as a century slipped away, around the time I was pregnant with BoyChild.” Even if you are not aware of the birth date of my son, the prior obviously means “the year 2000”. Which would mean, by the time of their death in 2006, we’d kept in touch periodically in seven years from our last time together in person. (2000-1993=7) Which would also mean I had not seen this friend in person for 13 years.(2006-1993=13) I know you had friends, close or otherwise, that you’ve lost touch with since graduation.
“Every person with whom I was friends, from 4th grade through my first year of college, knows this person was an important part of my life. How is it that no one in 6 years has mentioned this death?” This is not an admonishment of the people I knew in my school years. This was a realization that most people did not know our friend had passed away. Which, in the five months since discovering the headstone, I have discovered to be exactly the case.
The fact that you clicked to this site from Facebook, created a fake email account, then deleted the email account after posting an obnoxious comment, indicates sneaky “dark” behavior. What you fail to realize is that it took about 3 minutes to track your IP address, your wireless carrier, and subsequently your address. No one is anonymous on the internet.
Since this IS an editing blog, let’s edit.
Submitted on 2012/09/10 at 1:02 pm
Interesting parenting time you have. Why not have your kids start writing prisoners, pen pals – maybe not dark enough for you as hanging out in cemeteries.[Incorrect punctuation. This is a question. Where is your question mark?]
There are amazing ways to teach children about history, and yes I have found locating old headstones, seeing what the oldest I could find very interesting – but at the same time I was locating family members – this would not be something I would do as an activity for my children if we were not locating family. [This is a grammatically confusing, run-on sentence. Consider revising to this: There are amazing ways to teach children about history. For myself, I have found locating the oldest of headstones in a cemetery very interesting. However, I was attempting to locate family members. This is not an activity I would do with my children were we not looking for relatives.] SIDE NOTE: YOU ARE, IN FACT, WANDERING AROUND A CEMETERY, EVEN IF YOUR INTENT IS TO FIND A RELATIVE.
Basically[,] you are teaching dark melancholy ways to your children. If it’s for historic value, go to a cemetery that is designed/intended/created for that. It is actually
quietquite rude and disrespectful for you to be there for any other purpose.
As for your friend – you really couldn’t have been that close. Perhaps you are being overly dramatic. Your friend’s family would have known the closeness you had and therefore would have informed you or a family member of yours.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUBMISSION, BUT AT THIS TIME I CAN NOT TAKE ON YOUR PROJECT UNTIL MY SCHEDULE CLEARS. 🙂
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