Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Phoenix Ashes

Monument Garden

The moon-beams filtered through the trees as they swayed in the gentle night breeze. The black and gray tones they cast shimmered across the darkened garden. At 10pm, the automatic sprinklers started their cycle and a cool mist drifted across the markers.

Brizza Bonell
10/18/1974 - 9/27/1992

shivering skin
warm sun
The coolness of the water
I miss it

There was silence as the sprinklers continued their chit-chit-chit of water across the lawn.

Ethel Wolf Quinn
Wife of J.R. Quinn
1888 - 1919

Something happened
another mistake
another ending

The sprinklers ceased their artificial rain and fell silent. Only the gentle rustling of the leaves overhead could be heard until morning.

Not long after sunrise, with the morning rays still casting long shadows from the taller stones, the weekend procession started to trickle in. Older cars in need of paint and wax slowly meandered down the narrow drives. Like old horses that instinctively know their way back to the barn, the occupants of these cars had been to the same spot many times before. Store bought flowers, purchased at a discount, replaced the withered ones left the previous weekend. Prayers were whispered, tears were shed. The stones looked back in silence.

Beatrice M. Regaldo
2/21/1912 - 8/26/1983

my daughter
is she lost
is she happy

Nick Prohoroff
9/6/1922 - 9/6/1990

The world is for living
They all come
In some way

Jenny left her car and walked slowly toward her husband. There was no hurry. There was no need to rush. She stopped before the stone, her head lowered, tears running down her cheeks.

Fernando Jacabo
6/5/1950 - 2/14/1996
Jenny Jacabo
11/28/1955 –

My Love
My Life
Why tears
Why sadness

Jenny fell to her knees, leaned against her husband and quietly sobbed. "I have nothing....nothing left to remember you by. Everything we made is gone Fernando....everything...."

Her aged body trembled against the cold stone as a gentle breeze made the flowers on the nearby graves shiver. Jenny stood up, leaving her tears running down the granite face of the stone. She walked past her husband toward the mortuary building at the corner of the garden.

Two days later the cemetery backhoe rumbled to life and inched its way down the narrow paths to Fernando's tombstone. The groundskeeper drove the aging tractor as his helper stood on its trailer hitch. As the tractor came to a stop the helper jumped down and stood before the grave. "Yup, this is it; Jacabo". The groundskeeper was looking at a diagram that he had pulled from his back pocket. "Says 3 feet to the left, standard plot."

The helper looked at the marker and responded, "To the left? Isn't this Jenny?".

"Nope, was his daughter."

Corina Beatrice Brejea & Claudia Betty Brejea
3/3/1977 - 10/8/1994 & 3/3/1977 - 10/8/1994

Too short the days
no blush
the scent gone
the diary unfinished

As the sun set, the six foot by four foot hole appeared as a gapping wound. It was marked with orange cones at each corner. Down through the rich top soil, past to the hard creosote and into the shale, it was 6 feet deep. The excavated earth lay across the path, covered with a green blanket. Robins and sparrows bobbed over the mound of rich earth searching the earthworms within the soil.

Frank Livengood
2/9/1908 - 9/23/1991
Roy Livengood
11/11/1913 - 10/10/1917

Just like us
Just like all of us
yet far apart

The heat of summer slowly faded with the setting sun. As the clouds turned yellow and then became a dark crimson two white cranes circled overhead and slowly descended. At the center of the cemetery, all paths lead to a large fountain. Its bubbling waters filled the reflecting pool. The cranes landed and surveyed the garden. They moved cautiously, silently. With each step they froze and scanned the horizon. The night was still and so was the mated pair.

David Soo Fong
11/2/1902 - 3/15/1979
Quan Oy Fong
8/15/1906 - 5/21/2000

Together forever
As it should be
Silently knowing
Trusting no one

From a distance, the cranes stood as statues in the fountain. They became one with the night and watched over the memories of those that had past. As the air cooled and the stars slowly awoke, a squirrel appeared from its knot hole in the oak that overlooked Fernando's grave. He smelled the air and surveyed the ground. He sensed no one else was near. Cautiously, he scampered down the tree and onto the grass. Every few feet he stopped, stood on his hind legs, and sniffed. Summer grass and pine needles were all he perceived.

He scurried about the open grave, trying to figure out why this portion of his world had changed. He sensed no opportunity here. He leaped onward to where the garbage cans were. They usually contained some sort of bounty for the taking, if he was cautious.

He scampered past the Jacabo tombstone and stopped again to survey his surroundings. The rush of air over a wing and the passing shadow came too late as a warning. The stealthy talon closed around him as the owl lifted him from the lawn.

Eva-Marie Knox Hansen
12/9/1982 - 11/22/1983

Do not dwell
on things unseen
it comes quickly
there is no fear

The owl landed on a marker several yards away and pecked the last breath from the squirrel. The cranes watched silently from the fountain, unmoving, unmoved.

As dawn broke the next morning, the funeral preparations began. Two rows of chairs were lined up neatly next to the open pit. Brass bars were placed around the grave site and the lowering mechanism was assembled and lowered into the earth. At 1pm the slow procession of cars entered from the south gate and made their way to the grave site. The white hearse pulled up first. With solemn ceremony, the mourners exited their vehicles. The pallbearers removed the casket from the hearse and placed it over the pit. There was silence mixed with muffled sobs and whispers. Sermons and testimonials were read, mourners embraced. The pain of loss shrouded friends and family.

After the service the crowd slowly departed to return to the world of the living. They had helped close this chapter, and it was time for them to continue writing their own.

Isabella's best friend confided to her father, "They still haven't found Hector, have they?"

Her father shook his head.

"He loved her so much." she added in a soft voice.

"Then why did her run from the accident?" he replied. "What kind of love is that?

The father paused. Holding back his anger, but wanting to impress this lesson onto his young daughter.

“Just because a man says he loves you Gabriele....does not make it so. Isabella found that out at the end."

Beatrice M. Regaldo
2/21/1912 - 8/26/1983

Was it fear
too much pain
It cuts both ways
love and loss

As the shadows in the garden grew long, the remains of the ceremony were removed. Everything looked the same as before with the exception of the small temporary marker. It was one among many. The grass was reseeded over the fresh earth, and balloons were tied to the stone to keep the birds from steeling the seed.

As an evening thundercloud gathered on the horizon, lightening was visible in the distance. A light rain began to fall in advance of the pending storm. Unaware of the weather, the sprinklers popped from the ground and mingled their streams with the falling mist.

As the breeze pushed the balloons to the ground, a solitary figured walked across the lawn. Hunched over, hands in pockets, head bowed, he stopped at the newly filled grave. In the gentle rain and the flashes of light he lingered.

The wind began to whip the balloons from side to side and the rain increased as the storm drew near.

He raised his hand to his head and the sound it made matched the crack of lightning. He fell forward onto the fresh earth. His lifeless body slumped to the ground and released the balloons. They skirted long the ground like frightened animals in the storm.

Michael Charles Guida Sr.
12/9/1934 - 1/22/1996
Mary Jacquelin Guida
7/29/1934 -

True Love
Knows no end
True Love
Needs no sacrifice

Isabella Jacabo
3/8/1990 - 6/20/2007

Hector, My Love
did you follow me