Colleague Lisa Foerster died in an auto accident in May, along with her two children, Emma (19), Thomas (18), and her sister, Lorraine. The family was headed to Hocking Hills, a beautiful southern Ohio region of hemlock-covered gorges, perfect picnic spots, and waterfalls. They were planning to hike at Old Man’s Cave. Lisa’s son was to graduate high school that weekend. Instead, Lisa’s days, and those of her children and sister, received their final tally.
There is comfort in the peace and beauty of cemeteries, and Fairview Cemetery, of West Liberty, Ohio, is a favorite. With its commanding views of the surrounding countryside, and the chocolate shop (Marie’s Candies), at the foot of the hill, I commune with the West Liberty dead.
What a quaint practice, I muse, indulging in a chocolate-covered apricot, this business of listing on the tombstones the number of years, months, and days of a loved one’s lifespan. So 19th century! Well. The inhabitants of the 1800’s were on to something, recording for posterity every day lived.
Caroline and Jennie of West Liberty circa 1800’s, and Lisa of Athens circa 2000’s, have taken their turns. We remain. The question I find myself asking on that idyllic hill is, “How to live the gift of this day?” Perhaps just this….breath coming and going from my body, with two feet walking along the resting places of so many. The sharpness of dark chocolate on my tongue. The sounds of village life in the distance…a lawnmower, a dog barking…scent of warm earth rising into the humid air. Grateful to be here. And thinking of Lisa.
‘Eternal rest, grant her, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon her.‘ The Book of Common Prayer