Having an active imagination and being a lover of the change of seasons, it no wonder that every October I begin to feel a little haunted.
With the crunching leaves and chilly mornings I will find myself looking twice, thinking I saw someone from my past out of the corner of my eye, looking up when I hear laughter in a restaurant believing I recognize the voice from long ago, catching glimpses of moments from decades long past, frozen in time and living on in my memory.
Then I will look around me, standing alone, feeling strangely connected to time and yet eternal. I don’t want the moment to end and yet I know it is slipping away just like the leaves swirling away with the autumn breeze.
Now, don’t worry about me. I am not about to retreat to a dream world of my memories. I just have this side to my imagination. It is harvest season in Colorado and just as a farmer harvests all that he has planted last spring and taken the time to grow throughout the summer, I revisit what my life has been, what it is now, and where everything is eventually heading. I ponder what seeds I have planted in this life and what I will eventually harvest.
It is this somewhat macabre and poetic reason that this time of year I head to Linn Grove Cemetery in Greeley to visit the graves of the Swedish immigrant side of my family.
Linn Grove is a peaceful place. Although it is not as cool as an old European cemetery or even an older cemetery back east or in the south, it is still over 100 years old. Founded shortly before Colorado became a state, it has remained relatively unaffected by population growth and does not have a major highway running by it. It feels like a place to rest. I, personally, will not rest at Linn Grove when my day comes to return to the earth, but I do find a quiet solitude here when the mood strikes to contemplate life.
This weekend the sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, the air was fresh and it was just a few days before Halloween. So of course, I jumped into my car and headed to the cemetery to pay tribute to my ancestors.
“OK, they are off the little lane just left of the flag pole. Or wait, was it two lanes? No worries, I will just park the car and walk until I find them. I will recognize it the plots as soon as I see the small evergreen bushes.”
45 minutes later…” I know I am in the right area. Do I have to keep apologizing to all the sleeping souls I am walking over? Has anyone else ever lost their ancestor’s grave wandering around here? Hey, I got my 10,000 steps in. Good job. If I calm my mind my intuition will find them. I have been here dozens of times, am I losing my memory? Surely I can connect to my ancestor’s spirit and they will bring me to the right place. I am pretty intuitive after all.”
One hour later… I stop in frustration. I close my eyes and I go back in time to the day of my Grandmother’s funeral. She is my only ancestor buried here that I knew in life. I can feel the sun on my skin and yet the air is brisk and the ground still shows signs of recently passed winter. I am a few days away from turning 10 years old, wearing my favorite purple coat and standing next to Brenda, my mom’s best friend. I remember Brenda taking care of me that day from the funeral to the burial. Looking around, I am aware of the intense grief surrounding me. I see pastor Langland standing near a hole in the ground and saying prayers. I know that my Grandmother is in that hole and I am trying to process what that means exactly. While I am sad, I am strangely observant to everything around me. I am facing south and the entrance is to the west. ” Grandma is definitely on the south side of the lane. Now if I can just remember exactly which lane left of the flag pole that would be…” Just then a voice pops into my head. It seems to be coming from the image of Pastor Langland standing graveside in my mind. ” Why are you seeking the living among the dead?” The voice asks.
I shake myself away from my imaginings trying not to acknowledge how weird all this would seem to the average person, I burst out laughing as I realized that Halloween is supposedly the time when the dead walk among the living, and here I was, one of the living determined to walk among the dead. To top it all off, as far as I was concerned, there was no dead of mine to be found. Guess the joke is on me.
And then in a flash, I felt peace. The cemetery was strangely full of life for a place of eternal rest. Birds, trees, grass. I felt connected to my ancestors with or without their headstones in sight. I felt comfortable with the passing of time and the whispering of days gone by. It is all within me.The time is now, the time is always now, and I am living. Even when this body is back with the earth, I feel confident that someone, perhaps on of my sister’s descendants, will see a leaf fall to the ground and feel a gentle breeze. The time will be now because the time is always now, and I will be with them.
So that is my not so scary haunted October story. If you celebrate Halloween, I hope you enjoy all the little ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood. Maybe you will treat yourself to a caramel apple and tell good ghost story.
If you are wondering, at some point I will ask for help in relocating my ancestor’s exact burial site. It is good information to pass on to future generations and respectful to stop by now and again. I just won’t expect to find anyone there!
As always, I would love to hear from you. 🙂
Until next time,