family · I have a lot of feelings

A cemetery story

Over the weekend, we paid a visit to our relatives’ graves, something we haven’t done in a while. Walking among the headstones hand-in-hand with my four-year-old cousin, I remembered a funny story about the cemetery.

When I was little, to explain my father’s absence, my mom told me that my dad was dead. He wasn’t—they were just separated. But Mom thought this was too complicated an explanation for a toddler, so she went with “Your dad’s dead.”

So for a few years, when we would go to the cemetery in November, she would lead me to some random grave and tell me that Papa was buried there. We would stand there, and I would bow my head and solemnly pray. At that age, I couldn’t read yet, so I didn’t realize that the name on the grave was unfamiliar and that I was praying over the bones of a total stranger.

When Mom admitted to this stunt, we had a good laugh. It was the kind of story that you know you’d tell for years to come.

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