Friday, June 15, 2012

What it means

Often I can be found in Arlington Cemetery. I think it is a wonderful place that keeps me very humble. The names etched give me pause and I wonder what their life was like.

How did Casper die? What kind of mother was Annie? Albert outlived both his wives and the three of them are together for eternity in this sacred ground- would the two women have liked each other? The infant twins of the McAlister family died within four months of each other at the very young age of six. What happened? So many men were buried with the starboard date within the 1940s -- World War II and the 1960s -- Vietnam.

Who visits these departed men and women?

I had the honor and pleasure of taking my aunt and uncle to Arlington this past weekend to give them the highlights tour- starting the with the Confederate memorial, over to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, into the coliseum, a stroll through Robert E Lee's home, down to JFK and the eternal flame, before finally wrapping up in the quiet rolling green hills of unbroken ground waiting to hold the sons and daughters of our great nation.

Often I see rocks on the top of graves.

Sometimes one, sometimes several. Finally, curiosity got the better part of me and google found my answer.

Rocks represent visitors. It was once a Jewish tradition and has evolved into a tradition of many faiths and segments of society- military being one.

Occasionally, these rocks have been sitting on the headstone for quite some time. Click on the picture to make it bigger. Can you see the cobwebs? I did not until the picture was uploaded onto my computer, my finger hanging dangerously close over the delete button.

We are all too quickly wrapping up our second year in the District of Columbia. Had you told me two years ago that I would spend the majority of my tourist outings in a cemetery, I would have called you crazy. Had you told me that I would make the most amazing friends here that I will carry with me for the rest of my days- I would have laughed. Had you told me that I would fall so head over heels in love with the city, the bustle, the homeless, the ostentatiously wealthy, and the crazy parameters that we have to live within- I would have called you a liar.

Guess who, it turns out, is crazy, laughing, and so it seems- a liar?


What does it mean to start our final year in the wonderful place on this humbling journey?

Can I take enough pictures, make enough memories, meet enough people, to carry me past the coming year as we start the next step of our grand adventure? God I hope so. Because this place is under my skin, in my heart, and struck every wonderful thing that makes me feel good about life.

I am a different person than I was two years ago.
I am a different mother than I was.
I am a different wife.

I am a different friend. I am a better friend.

Maybe when I am long gone and in my granite home, someone will come visit me and place a rock to grow cobwebs. I want to continue to grow into and become that kind of person-- the kind that someone wants to visit when there is nothing to say.

I plan to start leaving rocks.

--MAN, try not sounding morbid when it comes to talking about graveyards and growing "up"!-- 


Family Snodgrass said...

Tears welling up, Rachel. You've gotta work harder on Docta Will. Y'all CAN'T leave!

Rod and Alex - aka: "Rolex" said...

What a beautiful tradition. I will have to remember that next time I visit a loved one who has passed.
Sounds like your time there has been amazing. Glad you have a lot of beautiful photos to help capture the memories.