Anyone who has lived as many blessed years as I have, has known the pain and heartbreak of death and loss many times over. I have outlived and buried a good number of loves ones, family, my Sisters in commuity and friends. I am also well acquaited with cemeteries. When I was very young a very long time ago, it was our family routine every Sunday to go to the parish cemetery on the way home from church after the Divine Liturgy. In addition to that, there were weekday visits when we would go after supper for maintenance of our family plots. This was, of course, long before Perpetual Care became law. My father would take his push lawnmover out to the car to cut the grass, while we children ran around to find the angels on the children's markers, or tried to figure out what "Tu Spociva..." ("Here rests"...) meant on the old cement stones with 3 bar crosses.
Often today as I stand at a burial site, or visit a grave and pray, I think of the person resting there, and a thought coumes to mind. Perhaps it is something unfinished between us, maaybe something I wish now I would have said or done differently.
But for all of those people resting side by side in every cemetery everywhere, such things no longer matter. I have family buried in our parish cemetery of St. John in Trumbull, formerly Bridgeport, Connecticut. During the early years of intense ttrouble in our churches in America, this parish was very seriously involved in the bitter differences. The parish was split, many people left to build an Orthodox parish, and families were devastatingly fractured. However, they kept the same parish cemetery, both those who stayed and those who left continue to be buried there. Also interred there are their Orthodox Bishop Orestes Chornyok and his wife Pani Yolanda as is Igor Sikorsky of helicopter invention fame. All differences aside and forgotten, they are all together as one.
It is a consolation to anticipate the day, when we too will all be together, no longer in a cemetery, but with an unimaginable God in an unimaginable eternity. Then, there will no longer be a need for apologies or fulfillment of words or actions. May we pray to hasten that peace in our hearts today- here and now, as our departed loved ones would want us to do.