Memento Mori

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this peculiar quirk. One that, when it happens, totally creeps out my usually steadfast husband. Without warning, my whole body shudders. As if I’ve been blasted by an arctic wind, I shiver uncontrollably for all of two seconds, then it passes.

When I was a kid, my mother used to say, “a goose just walked across your grave.” Being that her religion shuns all things paranormal, I thought the idea of a futuristic migratory bird strolling over my not yet dug final resting place was a bit odd.

As I grew older, the tics remained, but I could control them most times. Still there are occasions when I not only shiver, but my arms flail and my teeth loudly chatter. I imagine then a flock of Canadians dancing on my grave.

Perhaps, it’s this perceived connection with my inevitable death that draws me to graveyards.

I’m fascinated by the stories etched in granite, the elaborate mausoleums with family tombs protected behind iron gates. I’m moved by the crude, but lovingly crafted stones marking the graves of loved ones, or military crosses honoring fallen soldiers.

Cemeteries are eerily quiet. Even when found surrounded by loud, bustling cities, these gardens demand a somber respect, a hushed manner. Walking among the graves, I tiptoe along the edges of the plots, careful to not step on sacred soil.

There are times when I’m brought to tears, reading the names and dates, birth and death mere months apart. Tiny images of winged cherubs standing guard over these little graves.

Crypts covered in massive slabs of stone, hold messages of love and loss dedicated to beloved mothers and fathers. As their children grow older, passing in their time, they join their parents, smaller stones springing up like a fairy ring of morels.

Walking among the graves, I think of my long gone family. Remembering where their stones mark their final rest, and what epitaphs are written there. I wonder what will be said of me, wonder what will be etched into my stone. What few words will encapsulate the entirety of my life?

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Eric Storch gave me this prompt: Memento Mori. (translated from Latin: “Remember your mortality.”)

I gave Wendryn this prompt: “I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth (You don’t have to use the actual quote.)

6 comments

  1. Awesome post (as always), and I too have those uncontrollable shivers, about one a month – had no idea until today that they were because of those damned geese!

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  2. Love this post Tara. I have to say that I never heard the expression…”a goose just walked across your grave.” I’ve always been a little fascinated by gravestones…and the stories some of them tell. ~Joy

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  3. Geese and graves – a saying that was prominent in my Catholic upbringing as well and one I was just as confused by.

    I have always likened graveyards to gardens, too and used to do headstone rubbings. Nice to see I’m not the only “weirdo” in this strange circle of “bloggy-prompters.”

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