Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Swimming has taken over our life. We are at the pool four days a week. Each girl swims three times, M from 5-6:30, E from 5-6. On Mondays, only M swims, and E and I go home. On Thursdays, only E swims, and M and I hang out, because home is not worth the drive for an hour. On Tuesday and Friday, I have an hour to myself, before I go get E at 6, shower her in the locker room, and wait for M to be done.

This would be a great time to work, except that Swimming Town is pretty much bereft of places to go--the library is a possibility, but down an annoying rush hour road, and I hear there is a Starbucks in the other direction which M and I are going to look into tomorrow, but that's about it. So lately I've been using that time to go for a walk, or to run, which are actually lovely ways to use the time, except soon it's going to be dark, but I'm sure it's the kind of neighborhood where I can walk in the dark, only then it will be cold, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

One place my walks and runs have taken me is the Swimming Town cemetery which is huge and beautiful and strikingly still in action. We have a cemetery a few blocks from our house where we ride bikes and play hide-and-seek. There are a few newish graves, and some graves have flowers, but mainly it is pretty 19th/20th century, and feels very much like the past, which is how I think of cemeteries.

But in Swimming Town, the cemetery, which is really quite vast, goes back at least to the early 19th century, and maybe further--I haven't fully investigated the little fenced off plot which seems to have the oldest graves--but it also has plots for all the 20th century wars (haven't seen an Iraq war section--that would totally make me lose it), and yesterday in the far corner I saw a lot of 2005s, and there are big swaths of lawn for the future.

I often see runners and dog walkers there, but I also always see cars at graves, and people standing by graves, so it is a very present kind of place. Yesterday, I saw a new grave covered with flower arrangements. There were pictures of a one-year-old boy propped against the stone, which had the name and dates of a grandmother. I hope it was the grandfather who died, and the pictures of the boy were just to keep him company, but somehow I don't think so.

Death is my greatest (and omnipresent) fear, and the idea of the full disappearance that cremation entails is just too much for me, so I know I want to be buried. But where?

In this day and age, cemeteries so often seem so abandoned. My grandparents are buried somewhere in the outer reaches of New York City, one set, I think, in New York, the other in New Jersey. We only go when someone else needs to be buried, and now I think everyone who will be buried there is gone, so I wonder if we will ever go again. Certainly not if I don't even know where they are. L is in a beautiful cemetery in City, perhaps the most beautiful cemetery in the world, but I don't know if D, E, and L ever go. We don't, though now that I think of it, maybe we will, I'd like to show the girls that cemetery, and have them know that L is there.

People move away and leave their dead behind. But not so much in Swimming Town, it seems.

I suppose this is the kind of problem we should think about in advance, but it's just so hard.

Edited to add: This post has nothing to do with Halloween. It's just what I was thinking about yesterday afternoon as I ran through the cemetery. Then I posted it, and then I saw something else and remembered again that it was Halloween (how I could forget, given my children's excitement, is a sign of my true lack of interest).

1 comment:

Libby said...

I just wanted to say, this is a lovely post... Me, I'm all about cremation, but I do take your point. And, for that matter, I've never visited any of my grandparents' graves (and yes, they have them, though they were cremated). Hmm. I used to love walking through cemeteries. I missed them in LA.