Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gray Hair

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I pulled out a white hair this morning. It wasn’t my first…just my second. The first one I taped to a piece of purple card stock with two pieces of scotch tape. I felt like it was some sort of mile mark, some defining moment that I would look back on in latter days when the colorless hair is endless and my joints ache with movement.

It’s funny to have these moments of aging at 25. My body recovers more slowly for strenuous activity. I pull muscles more easily, and my joints ache with cold weather. I know I’m a long cry from what I’ll experience in older age, but I notice a difference all the same. So much is unpredictable in life, and yet I can count on aging. My body will deteriorate, my skin will stretch and sag, my organs will cease to function, and to dust I will return.

I went to a cemetery this weekend, to visit the dust of those I love, those I have loved. I have been there once before, on a rainy December morning, though on this day it was fresh and cool and comfortable in the fall sunshine.

Circulating the gravestones reflected such a mix of experiences. Some died as infants, with fresh skin and new bodies and lives that seem so full of potential. Others were surely ready, with bodies that gave in at a natural moment, surrounded by loving arms and voices that recalled years of living. And in between are a myriad of stories finished—though seemingly at premature moments. Though their bodies are buried, there were surely things left undone, milestones unseen, moments never experienced.

And I mourn for those. Seven years after burying the shell, the mourning for those is fresh.

I mourn for the moments that will never be witnessed. I grieve the loss of told stories, of shared experiences, of a warm body full of memory and love. Yet, I know some day I will rest there as well, empty of warmth, and the physical shell of a deceased being. Even though the circumstances of death are often tragic, dying is not. Aging is not. These are natural, and will happen to all of us as we near the end of our lives.

Much like gray hair.

Some see cemeteries as ominous and dark and sad. I find them to be peaceful. Because at cemeteries, much like at death, things are at peace. Life is at peace. The turmoil has ended; the battles are over; the fighting can stop. And finally, there is rest.

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