I remember the first funeral I went to. It was for some distant relative that I had never met, but my dad told me we had to pay our respects anyway.
My cousins and I were squirming in our seats as the service began. My father saw that we weren’t going to settle down anytime soon and told us to go for a walk, hoping that would keep us busy for a while. We ran off before he could finish telling us to be quiet and keep to ourselves.
All the adults were attending the service, and we took full advantage of the fact that no one was keeping a direct eye on us. We jumped over graves, ran after one another at full speed, and perhaps worst of all… We had a contest to see who could find the prettiest flower bouquet (we couldn’t understand why there were so many nice flowers just laying on the ground).
With our arms full of bouquets, we sat on a hill overlooking all the little grey slabs. And while we were arguing about who won the flower contest, an old man walked up to us. He had a hat on that hid his facial expressions and even though we didn’t fully understand what we had done, guilt and fear were still written on each of our faces.
But when the man took off his hat, he only smiled and told us what joy we had brought him. He told us he came to the cemetery every week to visit his wife. I asked him if she worked there. His smile was sad as he said, “something like that my dear.” He handed me the flowers he had brought with him. I thanked the man as I excitedly added them to my collection.
He told us again how happy we had made him, he said he was always sad when he came here. That the cemetery was too quiet, “children should dance on graves more often.” He said as he turned to leave.
Obeying his wishes, we kept on dancing.