Note to self: next funeral you attend look around for visual markers. How far is the burial plot from the granite bench? The mausoleum, the white structure—anything? If you do not, I promise you will not go back in the rain, carrying an umbrella and the deceased’s favorite yellow roses and find her in less than half an hour. I know, I know, you aren’t thinking about that when you are burying your friend, but location will become important later. Trust me.
In the old days, stones were creative, artistic, monumental, or just small and respectful, but they were unique and easier to spot than flat granite and bronze plaques. You can’t stand in one spot and scour the horizon for a name or shape. No, you must walk in the wet grass clippings, and dare I say it, walk on graves. You try not to, but the head and foot of the gravesite become merged into the next occupant. Finally, I’m ashamed to admit, you just wander without regard to tradition.
You are so clever at first. You look for two stones, one for her, one for her husband. When that is fruitless, you look for a spot missing a stone by an older plaque because there has not been long enough to put a new one for your friend. Finally, moist and hot from the misty rain, you just wander. You even call your friend’s name and say, “Damn, it Gloria, where are you?” Then you see a wide stone with her last name spread across, her husband’s name on one side with dates and hers on the other without. One large stone was not even in your bag of tricks, but there it is. So you call the friend who came with you and the two of you finally plant the roses in a vase. You fuss at your deceased friend a bit for hiding and messing with your head as she was prone to do, wish her Happy Birthday and recall what a kooky, special person she was.
All the while, you are making a mental map for next time, where to stop, which tree to line up with, how far in to go – what you should have done at the funeral had you been thinking straight. So this is fair warning. Heed it or not. And if you do, you have my admiration. If not, I might see you wandering out there among the flat grave stones.