Thursday, 14 June 2007

Six: Visit Cemeteries

I know that this one will intrigue a lot of you because the thought of reserving a burial plot may have entered your minds. Let me state that this is not my reason for doing this.

It all started a year or two ago when my eldest son, Steve, announced one Sunday at lunch that he enjoyed going to a nearby cemetery and reading there in the peaceful surroundings. Everyone at the table almost choked. I looked at him to check whether this another one of his wry, dry jokes as he often comes out with them.

Let me tell you a bit about Steve. He is unique - unequivocally unique. Highly intelligent, exceptionally well-read with a selection of interests, unusual ones of course. These interests have varied from teaching himself Italian and Chinese cuisine, to writing novels and poetry that have never been published, yet show an extremely agile brain and a huge talent. Not to mention his penchant for all things artistic. He has delved, trifled with and also totally immersed himself in Buddhism, Salsa dancing and an MA in Linguistics. He is ultra sensitive and heavily bogged down by his emotional baggage that he carries, but he is the closest person to a 'soul mate' that I have ever had in my life.

Your own son, your soul mate? Well, why ever not? We are so alike, it is sometimes quite scary. That doesn't mean that I have the above attributes, but I recognise all of them in him as a bit of each is in me too.

When Steven says something, I always listen. So the day that he mentioned the cemetery, I was not only bemused but my curiosity was aroused. Up until this time I had only had a bad and sad relationship with cemeteries, going there to bury my dead. It never struck me that the very fact that the place is filled with dead loved ones meant that it possibly could be quite dramatically settling to ones psyche.

Anyway, time passed as it does, and I never thought about it again. He mentioned this place now and again, but I suppose it sort of went in one ear and out of the other.

Then a few weeks ago, after breaking up with his girlfriend and feeling bitterly low and smashed about, he decided to spend a Sunday afternoon in his 'local' cemetery, so we went to join him there.

Obviously the time was right, it's all about timing after all. As soon as we walked into the place, I could feel not only the quiet, but also the serenity, the dulling of all traffic noises; in fact it was like a tomb closing in around me, but not in a bad way. It was a particularly warm day and cemeteries always seem hotter or colder than anywhere else on the planet.

We wandered around looking for an ideal spot, not too hot, not too shady, not too near the smelly trash cans, not where a new grave was being dug, just the right place. When we settled down, I felt a sort of languor creep over me and I felt extremely relaxed and at ease. It dumbfounded me. I felt regret when we left and could quite happily have stayed another hour or two.

So, I started thinking about my list and decided there and then that I would visit other cemeteries in London this year to:

a) enjoy them

b)compare them

and, yes,

c) possibly choose the one I would like to settle in when I'm gone.