Owning Your Journey: Part One
This blog is turning into something a lot different from what it began as. Yesterday, when I started to write it, I started talking about how everyone has a journey. I wrote about how that journey was the only thing that couldn’t be taken away from you. You could have your home, your food, even your life, taken away from you, but your journey, your story, your past… Those things stay forever. They stay through how you treat others. They stay in the things we say, write, create. And even if we feel that when we die, our story dies with us… That’s not at all the case.
A number of years ago, I was walking through a cemetery that is affectionately nicknamed “Hell’s Gates.” It has to do with how the gates look at night. There’s a lot of documented paranormal activity there. The cemetery is extremely old. There are grave stones that no longer have names on them, and some graves that aren’t even marked anymore because of weather or vandalism or other occurrences over time.
I have a sometimes-called-morbid fascination with old graveyards. There is an energy there that you can’t find in other places. As a Kemetic, I believe in the existence of the soul’s various parts. The long version is a post for a different day, but in the short version: when a person dies, part of the “soul” travels back to the body every night to ensure its survival in the afterlife. And I think a lot of people can sense this while walking through graveyards at night. It’s a massive (especially in older graveyards) number of deceased individuals whose ba’s return to them each night. It’s a lot of energy in a small amount of space.
My fascination goes further than just the general, “Old graveyards are cool.” When I was younger, I had an obsession for pointing out all the children. My mom even made me stop and said it wasn’t right and how morbid I was being. Old graveyards have a lot of children. They’re generally marked by lambs or small outlines next to tiny gravestones. I don’t rejoice in their deaths. There’s something extremely sad about the death of innocence and how the death of children means they never really lose their innocence.
But on this particular trip, I was with friends, I was in college, and we were walking through the graveyard and talking about wiccanate-pagan things and death. I was with my make-shift coven at the time, and I’m fairly certain we were teaching some of the “initiates,” but it was a long time ago, so I could be wrong. We were walking around towards the back of the cemetery when three graves caught my eye. They were all small, obviously children. Not infants, but children. They were all side-by-side.
When I went to acknowledge them, I was immediate struck by their common date of death. All three children, all with the same last name, all with different dates of birth, all died on the exact same day. The adult woman next to them died three days later. The adult man next to them died a number of years afterwards. Something had happened here, and it struck me. I had to find out.
I wrote down their names and dates of death and then went to the downtown library. I went through the microfilm, and found the newspapers at the time. (And if you’ve never gone through microfilm, make sure that you go through them some day. They are absolutely fascinating. I could spend hours going through them page by page.)
I got to the date of the first deaths: the deaths of the children, and on the front page was a story about a man who had been driving down the major highway in our area right after it had opened with his wife and his children when he got into a car accident. Three of his children died instantly. His wife died three days later. I printed copies of the articles to show to my friends because the story stuck with me: here’s this family, I have no connection to them whatsoever, but their deaths have profoundly affected me.
I remember, in great detail, where the graves are. I remember in great detail how the trees look, what the weather was like, how it felt to find these people’s stories. I remember everything. But I cannot remember their names.
This blog started out about how, even after death, our stories and our journeys never really end. People, through newspapers, Facebook, blogs, letters, word-of-mouth, will hear about us and our lives. It was about how we need to own our past and our present, how we shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are and what we believe, how we should own the journey we are on so that when our stories get told, they will be told in a light we want remembered. They will be told in a way that will help others, give others hope or affect their lives in ways we can’t even imagine, much like this family did for me.
But when I realized I couldn’t remember their names or where I had stored the newspaper articles or where I had written about them previously, I knew this blog wasn’t going to turn out the way I wanted it to. How can I write about our journeys living on after we die in ways we can’t even imagine when I can’t remember the names of the people whose lives and deaths I want to use as my example?
So today, after I get off work, I’m going back to find them again. Part two of this blog will be another step in my journey, my story, to this family whose names I can’t remember, but whose story has stuck with me for years. I’m documenting it because I want their story to be told. Not because it changed the world in any profound way, but because it changed me and has stuck with me for all these years, and I believe it deserves to be told.