Twenty years ago or so, my brother and I celebrated Christmas at my parents’ farm outside of Flint, Michigan. As the afternoon got older, after the presents were opened and the feast consumed, Allen wanted to go for a drive. Nothing was open, of course, and we had nowhere to go as early twilight drew on. So we ended up — as you do — at the cemetery.
We had no family buried in New Calvary. I’d never been there before and I haven’t been back since. My memory of the cemetery is that it was full of your everyday granite monuments: nothing to go out of your way for. That may be unfair. It could well have changed.
That afternoon, thick, heavy snow was falling. You can see the snowflakes reflecting the flash from my little Instamatic camera. Clumps of snow clung to the statue of Jesus, crowning him, mantling him, masking his face. Snow gathered in the chalice held by the angel. Between them, a leafy plant struggled upward through the snow. That part of the statue made me think that this group embodied the night in Gethsemane, while Christ prayed for the courage to accept his martyrdom.
The photo captures that day for me so poignantly. When it was taken, I didn’t know that I’d outlive my brother. This year he will have been dead for an entire decade. It surprises me how much the loss still hurts.
What I wouldn’t give for another stroll through a snow-covered cemetery with him.
Another post about my family
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