I did something a little out of my comfort zone today…I talked to someone in the cemetery. Now, that’s not uncommon, since in my profession I’m actually in the cemetery a fair amount. Yet this encounter and conversation was a bit different. Let me explain.
While I was checking our garden in the Community Garden plots, I noticed a car pull into the Servicemen’s Cemetery right by the garden. The driver, who appeared to be an older woman, stopped right by what appeared to be a recently dug grave – the soil was dark without any grass growing on it yet. She didn’t get out of the car…she just sat there. When I left the gardens, five minutes later, she was still there. I got into my pickup and spoke a quiet prayer for her and whatever her situation was. I was driving around the outer edge of the cemetery, making my way back to the main driveway and an interesting thought popped into my mind; “Go talk to her.”
No, I thought…I don’t know her. Usually when I talk to people in the cemetery I’m there in an official capacity. I usually have a connection with the family. I don’t know this woman. She hasn’t invited me into this moment in her life. Yet, there it was again, “Go talk to her.”
I was now at the point of either needing to turn right to head to the cemetery entrance or turn left and pull into the parking area by the Servicemen’s Cemetery. I turned left. “This is crazy.” I thought to myself. I pulled over and stopped my vehicle. I walked over to where the woman was still sitting in her car. I walked up beside the car – a little distance away, so not to appear threatening. Then I raised a hand a waved to her. She rolled down her window.
“Hello, are you OK, ma’am? Are you here visiting the grave of a loved one?” I asked.
“Yes I am,” she said. “My Husband.”
“I’m so sorry.” I replied. “It appears that he must have died just recently.”
“Well, no, it was actually a year and a half ago. That’s a new grave just beyond my husbands. But you know, I miss him every day.”
“How many years were you married?” I asked.
“That’s a lot of good memories.”
“Yes, it is.” She answered.
We talked a bit longer. I found out her husband was a Highway Patrol Officer. They had lived in Sturgis for a while (so had I), then they moved to Mitchell (I did too). She told me some great stories of their life and love. She shared that she came to the cemetery a couple times a day. She said, “I miss him every day. Some people say I should forget him and move on.”
“Why would you want to ‘forget’ someone you loved and shared life with? You’ll never forget him. He’ll always be a part of you and your life.” I said.
“That’s the way I feel too.” She replied.
We talked a bit longer. I told her I was a pastor in Mitchell and that I just wanted to make sure she was OK. I told her I didn’t want to take any more of her time. She thanked me for stopping by and visiting.
Nothing obviously miraculous, deep, or profound happened in that moment. No life-changing words were spoken, that I was aware of. But maybe the whole point of the moment was what I sensed in my heart, “Go talk to her.” Maybe I was just there to let someone talk about the love of her life. Maybe I was supposed to share in a moment of her life and to let her know it’s OK to still be grieving. Maybe she just needed a friend. Or maybe I was the one that needed to hear a dear soul reflect on a life of faith-filled/love-filled living.
I’m not sure why that moment happened…but I’m glad it did. If nothing else, it touched my heart. God bless all of you / us – who live with ongoing grief and loss. God is with you…even in the hurt and pain.