Sunday was the second anniversary of the passing of Mrs. Wife’s grandmother. In the morning, the four of us took a drive out to the cemetery to pay our respects. It was simply beautiful out. Blue skies and cool, early fall temps. Cemeteries are peaceful, remarkably well-manicures places. They’d make great open spaces for the public if it weren’t for all the corpses.
We found the tombstone and while Mrs. Wife and 6-Year Old Daughter said a prayer, I had a look around. It’s a Catholic cemetery and as such, all of the names on the tombstones are either Irish or Italian. Really. All of them. My favorite was a heart-shaped tombstone of pink granite with a very Italian name. In addition to the name, they carved a horse and a pair of dice into it. The dice showed 11 and for those of you unfamiliar with craps, 11 is the friendly number. It’s the only number you can throw where nothing bad will happen to you. You’ll never lose money throwing an 11. He was my kind of paisan.
I heard 6-Year Old say, “Is she buried in the ground?” Mrs. Wife said, “Only your body goes into the ground. Your soul goes up to heaven.” I looked at Daughter’s face and she wrestled with this concept. I wrestle with it, too. The Buddhists believe that you are reincarnated over and over again until you obtain Nirvana. Every culture has its own take on what happens after you die.
Do you know what I think? I don’t believe ANYBODY knows what happens after you’re gone. Each culture has its own story to tell. Your personal belief is not rooted in fact but, rather, where you were born how you were raised. Nothing more. I think these stories were made up by man and handed down from generation to generation, just like what Mrs. Wife was doing to Daughter, because mankind is terrified of death and these legends give us comfort and a sense of order. It’s part of the human fabric. But I don’t think anybody knows, really. If everyone adopted this attitude, the religions of the world would crumble.