|By Angeline M Duran Santiago|
In my neighborhood, part of the regular sites one sees driving back and forth are the many cemeteries, stretching through neighborhoods and reminding us of their existence. One of the things my family and I take time to search for are the dates etched in the stones. Somehow we imagine the stories these people once lived, based on their names and the history of their birth year and death. Waiting for the bus becomes a conversation of what might have been the reason a child died before age one, or how someone lived to one hundred years of age.
My visits to the cemetery are few, at least here in New York. I consider myself blessed for that reason. But, I've entered to visit with my husband and my children to visit his father and grandfather's site. We think of funny moments together with him, say hello and see you soon. In the tradition of long ago, we look for rocks, the bigger the better, to place on the tombstone as a reminder that we were there, or at least that someone remembered to come and stay awhile.
The grave is a place so many want to shy away from. It symbolizes our end, the last of our days, and termination to who we are. Still, to me, the grave is a reminder to remember my Creator and live my life with the constant knowledge that I long to be before Him one day. I've had many close calls home, as have many of my family members. We're still here because it's not our time yet. God still has a plan, a great plan.
He still has something for us to complete. Our existence has great worth and value in God's agenda and if we align ourselves with His will, seeking to walk guided by His love and power, we will be able to fulfill everything God has designed for us.
The grave site should never be a place of fear for us. Yes, it is a reminder of loved ones gone forever in this world. I don't deny there is a pain and grief that settles in our spirits when we reminisce and look at those endless rows of stones. It can also be a place of hope if we embrace a life that has begun with God in our hearts here on earth, to continue in the life to come.