The stranger and the dead

With a few hours at my disposal, I found myself dawdling lost in thought, at a cemetery.

Every so often I would stop at one of the stones, and where legible, read the inscription which would encapsulate the life of the person resting below. The words represented my relationship with the dearly departed, a relationship that would last for a few moments and would read “In loving memory of John Hall, Died 2nd Feb 1950, Aged 75 years.”

Who were the many people lying amongst John Hall? Was John a good man? Who was he to his loved ones? A loving husband? A son? The favourite uncle?

The sum of the life that sat before me gave me no clues. The brown, dry flowers which lay above John’s final resting place whisper of a man once loved and still missed.

Why do we, as humans, place so much emphasis on the name that we leave behind, the memory that exists in our wake, and the few memorable deeds which spark the curiosity of strangers?

It is only now that this notion seems so absurd. Does John care that I visited his grave? Does he want to share his story with me? And, if so, what would he share?

Somehow, all of my life I had missed something so important. It seems so clear to me now. We do not live and die for strangers to share fleeting moments with our name. We are here to love many through our fleeting lives so that our relationships survive beyond our mortal lives.

The dead to not care for names nor should the living.

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