The Call to Come
It calls for me to come,
this place that holds the dead.
I try not to hear,
but my heart is compelled,
Drawn by the desire to remember his life,
Held back by the wish that my loved one
were not among their number.
Though time has passed,
I still cannot believe it is true.
These feelings that at one time
belonged only to others
have now become mine.
I have often wondered
what the experience of death must be like,
but its hard lessons arelearned only firsthand.
One cannot understand the loss
until this place holds one of her own.
So I answer the call with dread,
plodding along the gravel path with a sick,
uneasyfeeling in my stomach.
I arrive too quickly.
The lifeless stone stares back at me.
I long to remember, yet fight the steady playback of memories.
Hope not to cry, though acknowledge that the release is needed.
I brush off the leaves and twigs that have gathered as if to pay their last respects.
Still in disbelief,
I read the words over and over -
"In Loving Memory".
The letters become a blur through my tears.
It seems like only yesterday . . .
I wonder with horror
what is under the ground all around me.
How long does it take for nature to do her work?
Do all who visit entertain such morbid thoughts?
I try to picture his face as I knew it, the shape of his hands and his smile.
Emotions shift, and I find myself grinning
as silly things come to mind . . .
Like how much he loved pickles.
My mother used to say,
"Greg never met a pickle he didn't like."
Or the time He coaxed me into treating
the cut on my knee with Listerine.
It may "kill germs on contact",
but it burns like fire!
He was one of a kind -
Oh, God, I miss him!
Looking around, I read the names
of those who sleep alongside him.
Each stone marks the life
of one sorely missed at some point in time.
I realize that I am not alone,
for millions have made this grueling trip before me.
I only trace their steps of grief.
And I consider who might be compelled to visit
when my turn has come.
What memories will parade through their minds?
Lord, sin's curse is bitter!
I recall the words of Paul to the Corinthians
"O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?"
Still these words do not remove the sharp sting I feel in my heart today.
Yet I know that Your grace is sufficient
for those who remain.
I also know that when I come to this place
for the last time,
in answer to Your call,
Iwill not really be here,
for this is my hope "
God will redeem my life from the grave;
He will surely take me to Himself".