Can we stop here to rest?

graves

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

As Roxy and I peered out the living room window, the sun beckoned us to go outside.
Slowly inching our way down three flights of stairs, we made it outdoors.
Yet ten minutes later, the dog park no where in sight, I wondered why I had let myself be seduced by the bright, golden sun.

The sweat on my brow indicated it wouldn’t be long before my knee gave out. Desperately searching for a bench, I spotted one across the fence. Realizing it would only take a few more steps, I soldiered on.

As I approached the entrance, I realized my fatigue had blinded me to the fact that the bench rested in one of the corners of the local cemetery. As I tentatively took a step, Roxy looked up at me as is to ask, dare we? I nodded my head and we quietly entered this place of rest.

A place of rest–that’s what nana called the cemetery.

“It’s a place where the bodies of the deceased come to rest, Bella.”

“Nonsense, mamá,” my devout Spanish Catholic mother had replied. “Don’t confuse la niña, madre. It’s a place where people who once lived come so they can return to the dust they once were, Bella.”

Smiling, I realized that even then, I had liked nana’s explanation more.

Today, more than ever, it appeared nana had been right.

As Roxy and I sat on the bright, green bench, we took in our surroundings. The cemetery was devoid of any visitors. Looking around, I noticed there were graves that were decorated with flowers, plants, and even stuffed animals. Others were adorned with rosaries and religious icons.

And one grave was completely bare; devoid of any memento or decoration.

I wondered if the grave was bare because family members of the deceased had also passed away. Had they moved away to a faraway land making it impossible for them to visit the grave? I felt a great sadness wash over me. Many years ago, when we had moved from the Caribbean, we too had left nana’s remains behind.

Was her grave as bare as this one that only had a tombstone? I breathed a sigh of relief as I remembered that my mother sent a friend money every month so she would bring fresh flowers to nana’s grave.

Closing my eyes, I prayed silently.
I quickly became aware of how turning off one sense seemed to heighten all the others.

I felt the wind ruffle my hair.
I smelled the tasty aroma of someone’s barbecue as it wafted over the fence.
And I heard sounds. Many sounds.
Birds chirping, children playing, a car’s faulty exhaust, someone striking a can with a stick.

I inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled. I felt at peace. Sitting by my side, Roxy held up her snout to the sun. We basked in the sunshine a little while longer, not wanting to leave the warm bench that had cradled us for the past hour.

As we turned to leave, I looked back at the empty grave.
Suddenly I wished that someone, faraway, had stopped to rest by the tree that stood next to nana’s grave.

The thought comforted me as Roxy and I made our way home.

Where did you last stop to rest?

Note: Dear Readers, I wrote this post last weekend before I underwent surgery. I have since had my meniscus repaired and am presently on the mend. Thank you for all your tweets and emails. I greatly appreciate it!

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54 thoughts on “Can we stop here to rest?

  1. I’ll have to look up “meniscus”, but I’m glad you’re on the mend. Sending you more good thoughts (Roxy, too!)! xoxo

    1. Hi Paz! The meniscus acts like the shock absorber of the knee. Mine was torn and had to cut away the damaged part. Thank you for the happy thoughts. Roxy and I are most grateful! xoxo :)

  2. You may recall that I once worked for a Perpetual Care Cemetery. People often came there to walk and I found it very relaxing to stroll through and straighten crooked or overturned floral arrangements. But I have a thing for cemeteries and usually end up in one every time I visit a new place.

  3. A beautiful post, Bella. Where did I last stop to rest? Right here. Work completed for the day, exercise done, eyes tired from knitting, I propped up my feet and came to your blog. Thanks for taking us there.

  4. Bella, how beautiful and sad the way your essay makes its way toward your nana’s grave…
    I’m so happy for you that your knee has been repaired!!!! A very speedy recovery to you, amica mia.

    1. Jann, the recovery is going oh so slowly. I can’t wait to be up and about. Roxy misses our long walks in the forest, you know. I’m tickled pink you like the post! :)

  5. Your reflection touched my heart to the core, Bella. It is good and right to remember our loved ones with flowers and tributes, but when we can’t, we can rest in the peace that their beautiful souls are with the Lord. They are experiencing the ultimate peace and love in His presence.
    Thank you for sharing this, and know my heart and mind has been enlightened in the reading.
    Blessings always!

  6. Such a poignant post, Bella. Hope you’re on the road to recovery but don’t let that recovery prevent you from stopping and resting and writing! My snowboarding son is undergoing physio right now for a torn meniscus.
    I have always found cemeteries to be ever so peaceful :)

    1. I’m delighted you like the post, Astra! How is your son doing? Was he in pain for a long time? I’m on day nine since the surgery and it seems like they’re stabbing me in the knee cap. I’m starting to think this can’t be good. Let me know, please! Can you hear the desperation in my voice? Methinks I’ve been on this bed too long. Hee hee! :)

    2. I think pain nine days post-surgery is worth a visit to your doctor, my dear. My boys is doing better but still in physio. He can walk but he can’t run (the upside of which is that he tries to get to the bus on time!); still painful.

    3. Astra, I had my stitches removed yesterday and the surgeon told me that ahem, given my age, recovery might take longer. Oh dear, how I miss those days of youth! I am supposed to start therapy this next week. I shall keep you posted. I hope your boy feels better soon! :)

  7. Just beautiful Bella! I am so bad at taking the time to relax and just be quiet with myself. It’s gorgeous reminders such as this one that help me remember what is really important in life. Thank you for this!

    Also I love the new layout! x

    1. Vanessa, I’m happy you like the post and the new layout. I get bored of the same old, same old. I thought this theme was cute and pink! ha! I used to have a difficult time allowing myself to relax. For some reason, I always felt guilty for doing so. Luckily, not anymore. We all deserve to take care of ourselves and recharge our bodies through some relaxation! :)

  8. Such a calm, sincere, quiet-golden-sunshiny post, Bella. Your prayers and thoughts for your Nana would be the fresh flowers she needs. The last time I stopped to rest was last December: reading at the poolside at my sister’s condo in Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by trees and the evening brush of wind. (I’ll make sure I get to do this again soon.) :) All the sunshine in the world for you and Roxy!

    1. Claudine, I remember your post about Kuala Lumpur! That trip sounded like a slice of heaven. I love how you mention that my prayers are the only flowers nana needs. Thank you for that! :)

  9. Lovely, Bella. I’m not one to leave flowers or other objects at graves, but it’s important to me they be treated with respect.
    The last time I stopped to rest in such a way was following an afternoon of yard work last Thursday. I sat, put my feet up, closed my eyes, listened, felt, saw what can’t usually be seen with the physical eyes. Prayerful. Lovely. Hopeful.
    Be well, sweet Bella. Heal. xoxo

    1. Ellen, your moment of respite sounds absolutely heavenly! Thank you for your well wishes. I am grateful to you and everyone who takes the time to comment. You do my heart a ton of good, lady! :)

  10. Bella, please do rest that knee of yours till it’s well mended! And, although I’ve never been fond of cemeteries, you made the cemetery where Nana rested sound very tranquil & peaceful. glad you had that walk and some sunshine after being stuck in bed for so long!
    BIG HUG!
    felicia

  11. I absolutely loved this post. It was so touching, relaxing and peaceful. I last rested on the front porch, eyes closed, mown grass filling my senses. So many sounds, but my favorite is the wind shushing through the tree leaves. LOVE YOU!

    1. Nan, thank you for your sweet comment! I too love the smell of freshly mowed grass. It reminds me of summer days gone by when daddy used to pull out the lawn mower and my sisters and I would sit under a tree sipping lemonade! :)

  12. I feel rested just having been here! My Husby and I have always loved cemeteries. They are the most relaxing, beautiful places. The last time we were in Paris, our apartment was next to the largest cemetery. We spent many, many hours just wandering through. Reading gravestones. Pondering. It was a lovely, lovely place. We’ve done the same in nearly every city we’ve visited, the world over. Of course it’s easier when we speak the language. But just as peaceful.

    1. Diane, you and I are surely kindred spirits! In the past, I too have wandered in the cemetery reading the tombstones and calculating the age of the person when he or she died. It’s the perfect place to collect one’s thoughts, don’t you agree? :)

  13. I’m glad your surgery went well, Bella, and I hope you’ll be up and about real soon! This is a lovely post. I, too, find a cemetery quite restful. Darling Doggie doesn’t particularly like those buildings where bodies are laid to rest (mausoleums?), but he’s okay with the great outdoors! It would be real nice if you and Roxy went back there some time and placed flowers or something on that bare grave. You know, so good karma will surround your nana’s grave oh so far away.

    1. Debbie, it’s funny that you mention that because when I got home, I told the Significant Other that it would be nice to bring flowers and spread little bunches of them through the empty graves! I love your take on how this will incite good karma! I did not see it this way but you’re right. Thank you! :)

  14. I live maybe 500 ft from the chemung river and that is my favorite resting place… So much peace there. We don’t live far from a cemetery; it’s a very calming place to walk through…I do a lot of reflecting as I read the names and the dates…reminds me that life truly is a dash.

  15. Sorry about your knee pain but this post is melancholic and beautiful. My abuela used to said that cemetaries were more holy than churches because people are already gone and are not committing sins.
    Carinos,

    1. Ofelia, your abuela sounds very much like mine! Would you believe she would do the sign of the cross every time we went by one? hee hee! I’m delighted you liked the post, amiga! :)

  16. What a beautiful, beautiful post. Made me feel calm and at peace to read it, Bella. Seems to me you found the perfect place to stop for a repose. Tranquil and calm, just you and Roxy. I can picture it perfectly. I have found walking through a cemetery to be a serene thing to do. Time to think and time to reflect. But also time to wonder about the lives buried beneath. Hmm…

    1. Monica, I’m tickled pink you approve! If I was able to infuse you with peace and tranquility, then I’m pleased at having achieved my objective. I truly wanted to project to my readers the sense of calm I felt that day at the cemetery and considering this happened before my surgery, it was like a godsend. You know how fraught with nerves I was about the procedure and this experience served to calm me a bit. I too wondered what had happened to the deceased. What had the died of? How old had they been? Why were there so many children? Sad, really. However, when the person was well into their nineties, I thought, my goodness that was truly a long lived life! :)

  17. That was lovely, Bella. I’m glad you are on the mend. Bad knees are very bad for achieving any kind of rest! Here’s to a long life for you and your knees and a peaceful rest when it is over.

    1. Imelda, I’ll drink to that! hee hee! Thank you for the words of encouragement, sister! They are just what I needed today! :)

  18. Bella, it’s so nice to hear from you! I’ll confess that I haven’t been the best blog reader because I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things, lately, but I am so happy that you’re getting better. You are a strong soul, so I know you’ll be back on your feet in no time! :) HUGS HUGS HUGS

    1. Laura, I know how busy you are. You can come and visit any time you’d like. Your comments always make me smile and I’m so grateful to you for that! Hugs back to you, sister! :)

  19. Oh hi hun, so glad that you are okay and everything, What a beautiful post, hmmm, I’m resting in my hotel at the moment, and ready to get rest, lol. It seems I haven’t spoken to you in a long while. Miss ya much, and take it easy lady! ((hugs)) xx/Madison

    1. Madison, I’m always so happy to see you! Yes, sadly this entire fiasco with the knee has kept me from participating in the activities I love like writing and blog reading! Hopefully, I will soon be back in form and able to remedy the situation. Thank you for your lovely comment! Hugs! :)

    1. Adriene, I would imagine that the peace and quiet found there would be perfect for you to write your poetry, not to mention inspiring! You must try it soon! :)

  20. My dear Bella!
    So many things to say – all rushing at once wanting to tell you. Just like when you meet an old friend after a long time and the heart is bursting for news, to hug, to hold and jabber non-stop. First off, I’m so glad to hear that you are all good, all well with the knee. HUG.
    Secondly, I wish I was there with you sitting on the bench. Reading this made me feel Iike I truly was. HUG.
    Thirdly, I so understand the need to sit down and rest for awhile. The concept of rest didn’t quite hit home till I was recovering from chemo three years ago. HUG.
    Fourthly, I believe your Nana is closer to your heart than ever. HUG

    I was recently at the cemetary laying the remains of my own grandmother to rest. And the thoughts that followed since. The memories. The voice. The touch. Grandmothers are precious aren’t they. So many things I wished I had said to her. So many more moments I wished I had shared with her. Her remains lie in Malaysia under the hot tropical sun just like your Nana’s. May the joy and spirit of these wonderful women live on in us. I am sure your Nana would have been so proud of you today!

    A wonderful piece of writing. Vivid. Wistful. Beautiful. Thank you for taking a rest. Hugs, Sharon

    1. Sharon, I have told you this many times before but it bears repeating–you are one of my favorite people! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement. They mean so much to me! I’m so sorry for your grandmother’s passing. Like you, I’m grateful that these special ladies live on in our memories. They taught us so much, didn’t they? Hugs to you, dear lady! :)

  21. you’ve really touch me with your words, dear Bella, and I must recognize that you’ve cheer me up in an unexpected way!,
    and wish you’re getting well after that surgery!, hope your knee will be extra-strong and pretty nice!
    besos

    1. Ay, Mrs. Allnut, que linda eres! Thank you so much for your lovely words! You have no idea how much YOUR words cheer me up! I’m now holding up my coffee cup and toasting your wishes! May the good Lord allow it! Besos! :)

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