In the freezing atmosphere of the cold weather, amidst the mist-laden path of raw earth, from afar, I see an old metal gate that stands tall despite its rickety appearance: barely hanging by the hinges and slowly withering away, with rust covering every possibly visible surface–an indicator of its age and the years of continuity in which it stood there untouched, on a path that knows of nothing but abandonment.
The sloped terrain that leads to the old entrance makes its way to the top of a small hillock. And there it reads in bold letters–just above the metal gate–on a board withering away the same:
So as I let out the breath I’ve been holding that appears before me in a small cloud due to the gradually dropping temperature and in that instant fades away, I take a step forward and walk towards that road. As I do so, a faint breeze rushes past me and into the cemetery, causing the old latch on the gate to the entrance to undo itself so that it now stands hung open.
I continue walking towards it, as does the autumn breeze that is beginning to pick up as the night lies still, and with it the ruin of a gate sways slowly back and forth, producing a screeching noise as it drags along the rugged ground-one that sounds deafening to the ears in the silence of deathly still the night.
However, ignoring my surroundings, I push past the metal gate and carefully closing it behind me, I step into the cemetery.
Though it was extremely dark, given that it would be just above an hour or so before daybreak, but with the little amount of moonlight guiding my path I make my way through the rocky land with bits of wild grasses and weeds growing here and there, and past the countless number of graves with tombstones marking the lifeless bodies they hold ̶ buried into the earth.
After a while of meandering through the treacherous land, turning around a large willow tree that seems to be stretching over a number of graves within its reach, I halt in front of the sole one that I have been looking for and the reason that brings me here.
And there it lies, in all its glory: with its wide marble tombstone jutting out of the grave, hints of wild grasses by the sides amidst some small stones and dried leaves detached from the tree that fell, lifeless, just as the vicinity all around it. As I sit myself down in front of the unmoving stone, folding my legs beneath me and looking at the lines that mark its surface, I let my thoughts be.
Letting the sounds of the silent night lie upon me, I pull out the small piece of yellowing paper that was beginning to wear away at the corners ̶ which was the opposite of what I could say for the words it held ̶ and unfolding it slowly, I stare at the words that are written there in ink.
“Time flies by;
you see your life flashing in front of your eye.
And within a moment’s notice what once was,
the present you knew, the one you cherished
now lay silent in Death’s still hands.”
I do not understand why but I just cannot–for the life of me–read between the lines. For whenever I try, I’d look away─almost immediately─before I even can blink.
Inhaling in a deep breath then, I shift my gaze towards the huge tree, the leaves of which sway above my head with the light breeze. I stare at its ominous form against the faint light of the fading moon that appears to be clawing at something unseen in the sky with its far stretching branches. And I cannot help but be baffled by the eerie forms that the shadows can carve in the dark.
Sitting there for a long time, I just wonder and stare…and reminisce. Reminisce, a past that now is no more; reminisce the time when things weren’t the way they are now, and sitting there, in retrospect, remembering, I realize something.
If nothing had happened the way it did that year, we may not be here…
After the realization sinks in–which I have a notion was present there already, but just needed recognition– I go back to the previous nostalgic flashbacks I had drenched myself in.
The longer I sit there, the faster the time seems to go by. The atmosphere is thick with mustiness; there is the sadness, the grief that clings to the air of the cemetery. I can sense it–like an aura of the peril that comes along with it. And as if I have suddenly came back to my senses, looking around, I feel connected to all those people; their loved ones who have lost what no clock can reverse, no miracle can bring back…a part of their souls, a part of their being.
When I take another glance at the grave in front of me, something that I have been doing what seems like a lot tonight, I notice something I hadn’t before.
There, right in front of me, from the earth that holds the tombstone erect, grows a pale little daffodil full of vigor and life, despite all of the Death that surrounds it. The flower emerges from the ground like a brave soldier, fighting its way out of the murk and strife. Needless to say I am wonder-struck by its beauty and the spellbinding aura it creates.
The stone before me that holds lines forever embedded into its surface, the meaning of which shall remain intact as long as Time itself, now stand highlighted against the bright luminescence that the daffodil radiates.
A soul whose eyes,
never again will shed a tear;
who bears the love and trust,
of the ones that once they held dear.
Here lies…a memory.”
I think it has been almost an hour that I sat there, in the dark cemetery, because when I finally look back at the sky, the night is replaced by twilight and I can already make out the faint rays of sunlight that are beginning to outline the horizon.
The light, seeping through gaps in the leaves of the willow above me, slowly reaches the ground that is my sanctuary. And as if it is some sign from heaven, or nature’s way of telling me what is hidden between those lines, the sun rays fall directly over the little flower before me and intensify its radiance by a thousand times–like a thousand tiny suns.
It cannot be a coincidence, I think. There must be something that is hidden just below the surface, something I can’t see.
So now, looking back at the sun, I let my eyes soak in the landscape before me. I think there’s a reason why they say that it’s always darkest before the Day dawneth…
“Because I can definitely see a light,” I say.