They catch my eye every time. I try to turn the page, but I can't. It's like driving past the scene of an accident and having macabre sirens beckon me. I scan the faces first. Most are old but some have a photo portraying a more vigorous time. A beautiful time. A time of hope. A time when they anticipated the future. Just not this far into it. And as if this section of the paper isn't gloomy enough, occasionally there's the increased heaviness of a young life abruptly cut short. I'm forced to push my tea and toast aside and lay the leadened paper on the table.
Today it's a sailor who served during World War II. There's a watchmaker and jeweler. A board member of the Women's University Club in Seattle. A building contractor. One was a Peace Corps volunteer who served in Morocco. One woman spent her entire lifetime on a farm. Another was a graduate of the Kinman Business University. Willing or not, all walks of life are represented.
In spite of, and as a testament to, all these endings, life goes on. A seemingly perpetual motion machine that begins anew in countless ways every day, confidently passing the stardust within us from one life to another and unconcerned with the gamble that such passing on may not take.
Browsing through the abbreviated stories that do their respective subjects little justice, I wonder, “Is this it? Is this all there is? We live, we die, and if we're lucky there's a notice in the paper informing others of our existence? ” Reading on, I find the answer lies within.
There was a husband. There was a wife. There were siblings, children, cousins, in-laws, friends, neighbors, fellow worshipers, workmates, recipients of their benevolence, and many others. The existence of each person echoes across the valleys that lie between the mountains of lives they touched.
I turn the page and a faint, “I was here,” is muffled by the rustling of the paper. Yet for some the reverberations never cease.