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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 36 road by himself. god knows what he was thinking. when he got to me i said, “we’re about to pass the saddest gravestone in the world.” “i don’t want to stop,” he said. “it’s right on our way.” he huffed some more, distressed. when we got to the graveyard, we parked our bikes outside the little stone wall. i found the double gravestone right away, though i hadn’t been there in fifteen years, since my first set of boys was the age this pair was. my wife had left me in despair, hers or mine was not clear, and i had the boys every weekend. The rest of the time i kind of wandered around, alert for things like this. i kneeled in the dirt and put my hand on the yellow lichen growing so adroitly on the small low stone. when he joined me, i read aloud: seTh a. willie w. died Jan. 4, 1878 in the 11th year of his age in the 9th year of his age children of gilbert a. and rachel b. horton in the morning these two brothers, Left their home on ice to play, But were drowned beneath the waters, early on that painful day. when i looked up, i saw with a shock that spencer had tears in his eyes. “me, too,” i said. “yup,” he said. i rubbed the stone awhile. Though the stone dated from 1878, it felt like rubbing the hair of my sons just this morning. i was glad i had two sets of them, for safety. i stood and patted the taller monument, my height. “These are the parents, gilbert and rachel,” i read. “They lived till 1905 and 1916, all those years after their sons died.” spencer sniffed. i didn’t point out how the stone did not use the words “dreadful” or “unspeakably horrible”; “painful” was sufficient. nor did i tell him the saddest part—that there were other children buried nearby, all around us, siblings of seth and willie. The parents had outlived them all. we remounted our bikes. “life is complicated,” i told him. “everyone you see, even the mean ones, they all have their strug- gles and their troubles.” “yup,” he said. when we got to the ball field, i borrowed a piece of paper from the scorekeeper and sat on the rough wooden bleachers with the other parents to write this down. The pen skipped over the splinters. “you signing autographs?” one of the fathers asked. “Just writing something that just happened,” i said. “right here?” he pursued. “you rock.” no i don’t. i just wanted to write this down. out of the cor- ner of my eye i saw that spencer had put a blade of grass in his mouth and was chewing on it. ♦ SUPERB SERVICE FOR ALL YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS SANTA FE & NEW MEXICO 888-832-5668