We are connected, my child and I,
by an invisible cord, not seen by the eye.
It's not like the cord that connects us 'till birth,
this cord can't be seen by any on earth.
This cord does its work, right from the start.
It binds us together, attached to my heart.
I know that it's there, though no one can see,
the invisible cord from my child to me.
The strength of this cord is hard to describe.
It can't be destroyed, it can't be denied.
It's stronger than any cord man could create,
It withstands the test... can hold any weight.
And though you are gone,
though you're not here with me,
this cord is still there, but no one can see.
It pulls at my heart... I am bruised... I am sore.
But this cord is my lifeline... as never before.
I am thankful that God connects us this way.
A mother and child, death can't take it away!
O God, who holds all souls in life;
and calls them to himself as seems best:
we give them back, dear God, to you who gave them to us.
But as you did not lose them in the giving,
so we do not lose them by their return.
For not as the world gives, do you give, O Lord of souls:
that which you give you also take away:
for life is eternal, and love is immortal,
and death is only the horizon,
and the horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Several years ago I began researching my family history. As a history teacher, I can't believe how connected I now feel to the "American Story." Most fascinating has been tracking the westward movement of my mother's family from Massachusetts and Connecticut out to Indiana, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Montana and my father's from Virginia and the Carolinas westward to Tennessee, Missouri, Texas and California. I have a deeper, more personal appreciation for the pioneering and adventurous spirit that built and continues to build this land. I have discovered heroes and scalawags along the way... but mostly just regular Americans... hardworking and determined. It is inspiring to say the least.
It was in the process of doing my research that I discovered Find-a-Grave. I have been fascinated by cemeteries for as long as I can remember, and have been amazed to find so many who share my interest. In these quiet places there is no rush, no worry... none of the fears or overblown anxieties that harrass and pull at us every day and we can be assured that ultimately, none of them matter.
Cemeteries are places where we are reminded that, though each of us has a different story, we all share a common destiny. As we gaze at headstones of ancestors who have been gone for scores, if not hundreds of years, they remind us that the Story rolls on... with us, then without us. And more than ever I become convinced that each of us plays the part we have been given in THIS scene... then we move on to the next. Whether we are here for a day or a hundred years, it is but a single beat in the scope of the whole.
As Susie Salmon tells us at the close of The Lovely Bones - "I was here for a moment, and then I was gone." Thus are we all. I cannot honestly say I don't look forward to the next act.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that has been written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. "Where, oh death, is your victory? Where, oh death, is your sting?" 1Co15:54-55
Sign in the little country cemetery where my maternal grandparents are buried:
As you are, we once were...
As we are, you will be.
Your tombstone stands among the rest;
Neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care;
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist,
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you;
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled;
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder as you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew;
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you.