Please enjoy Part II of Windsor poet Mary Ann Mulhern‘s guest post.
I think that a big part of grieving is ‘regret’. We are sorry that we left things undone and unsaid when it comes to loved ones who are now dead and buried deep in the cold womb of earth, never again to ‘speak to us’. As a child, I remember vividly my father digging a summer grave, sweat pouring down his face, his chest, his back. I saw naked layers of earth as his shovel pierced the ground- sod, clay, gravel, moist lumps of black, black dirt.
Sometimes a stranger would interrupt his work to ask questions, to seek answers about the dead. I really think that people believed my father had some connection with those he buried, those whose coffins felt the first sound of clay from his spade after the prayers, after the flowers and tears. The living wanted to know if there was ever any sign, any sound, any voice from the world beyond the last breath. I’m certain that there never was, and yet, people wanted desperately to believe they could somehow make amends, make requests, and hang on to hope. What I remember most is that my father always listened to the living, which he believed to be as much ‘a work of mercy’ as it was to bury the dead.
Now that it is November, we honour both ‘ghosts and saints’ with Hallowe’en and All Saints Day. The ghosts we fear the most may indeed come to ‘hunt us down’ as the poet Thomas Lynch says. We can only pray that the saints will intercede for us, bring us back into the ‘light of resurrection’ where we can have rest and peace.
Last year I walked through a Mennonite cemetery. Many of the tombstones were engraved with hands, clasped in one last ‘farewell’, as the beloved set out alone into an absence even cyberspace dare not enter, dare not break.
Don’t forget that at the end of Mary Ann’s last guest post, there will be a trivia question, and a chance for you to win a FREE signed copy of her book, Sleep With Satan.