There is something about a cemetery that brings peace. People talk in quiet voices when they walk among the dead as though the dead might be listening too. Walking among the dead brings up memories, some best forgotten. This past October, I walked with my sister and my aunt where several of our relatives are buried. We shared stories that my sister had never heard; stories that never touched her innocent childhood. My aunt told stories about her mother and her stepfather who never loved her. I told a story of rejoicing at a burial many years ago. She told me about her oldest daughter, my cousin. Women, who have been sexually abused as children, never forget. It colors our relationships with our family and with men for the rest of our lives. My aunt was facing another death. We buried her oldest son at Christmas. Another death, another story. In the cemetery that autumn day, we shared stories that had not been shared before. We shared stories that should have been shared 40 years ago. Perhaps if the children had been brave enough to share their stories then, we could have eased each other’s pain. In the telling, all the anger, the hurt and the shame come out. It doesn’t heal. I don’t think it ever does. But as we walked out of the cemetery gate, something had changed. We were gentle with one another and our voices were quiet. The pain isn’t gone but it is understood. And shared.
2 March 2009