I wonder, dear friends, how you’re all doing.
Here’s something to chew on: I got a call, just Thursday, from David Sullivan at Mt. Auburn Memorials. He told me that he’d dropped our monument off at the cemetery and that the folks there would be installing it in a day or two. Looks like it will be ready when we need it. Just in time.
Pamela will be resting soon, in peace, in one of the most beautiful, tranquil places on the planet — Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge MA. It’s a destination, truth be told, that’s an easy walk from our house. Easy, that is, if you can walk. It’s a place we visited regularly because, well, you can’t find a better park. Pam and I took a little stroll around Mt. Auburn on July 4, 1991 — the day before Angelique was born. It was there, weirdly enough, that she experienced her first labor pain. I joked that we’d better get back to the house if we didn’t want Liqa to be born in a cemetery. Talk about the circle of life!
It was also at Mt. Auburn, one afternoon, when I became overwhelmed by the sense of enormity that pervades certain graveyards. I had an awareness of the tremendous accumulation of human life that has come before us. Come before us, and left ahead of us. I found myself considering the idea that there must be a depository of wisdom to be found in the experience of all the people around me. I longed to know if there was something, something important, those folks had to say to me.
While I was contemplating that question I sensed that I was going to get a response. I envisioned a chorus of souls who had come to the end of their lives — and moved beyond — we speaking in one voice and giving me my answer:
“Don’t be afraid to die, be afraid to pass up the chance to live.”
If that’s the shared belief of the residents, they’re about to get a neighbor who already knew, in life, what they, in death, were teaching me.
As I said, the monument came just in time. I wanted it to display some evidence of the faith our family shares with so many across the world and across the centuries, so I asked David to carve an image of the rosary into Pam’s gravestone — into our gravestone since it will be mine, one day, as well. It comforts me to think we’ll be together for the rest of time.
There’s a rosary in the stone, and there’s a quote from the scriptures. The quote is from the 103rd Psalm:
As for man, his days are like the grass;
He blossoms like a flower in the field,
A wind sweeps over it and it is gone;
Its place knows it no more.
As Pam said to me, more than once, more than a thousand times, it’s not about me. It’s not about her, either; or you, or anyone else for that matter. What matters is something much bigger. As long as we live with ourselves as the center of concern, we see nothing, we learn nothing, we know nothing. If I live, only, to advance my own will I’m blind; I don’t get to see what life actually is until I make a decision to advance the will of God.
Pam knew, and Pam demonstrated, that she was here, not for herself; but for others. She lived for the rest of us. She lived for our daughter, and she lived for me, too. She taught me to “get over myself” because she could see her own self in perspective. God, we know, has His eye on the sparrow; but He sees the sparrow with respect to everything else. He sees the sparrow as a sparrow. We sparrows, most of us anyway, have our eyes on ourselves. We see the same sparrow God sees, but to our way of looking at things the sparrow is the entire universe.
Well, that’s how my life seemed to me until I married Pam. She spent twenty-three years helping me to see how blinded I was by my own ego. You might say she “cut me down to size”. That in itself should earn her her reward.