I can think of nothing more relaxing than spending a beautiful, summer evening sitting in a graveyard. That’s right. A graveyard. On Sunday evenings, the Yorktown Summer Music Series is performed in the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church. Last night we took a picnic supper, a bottle of wine and folding chairs to enjoy the music of one of our favorite local bands, Poisoned Dwarf.
The cemetery was nestled under a canopy of trees that surely must be as old as some of the departed who have rested beneath that earth for two hundred years or more. Many of the tombstones were broken or so worn you couldn’t read the inscriptions. I couldn’t help thinking about the lives of the people who were buried there. I started imagining stories about them, wondering whether they had lived during the Revolutionary War or perhaps died because of the war. Had some of them fought in the nearby battlefields or traversed the river down the hill? Had they been active members of the Episcopal church that served as a backdrop for the concert?
I tried to imagine the life of one woman whose husband had died many years before she did. Was she left to raise a brood of children on her own? One tombstone reminded me that infant mortality was very high in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Losing children to disease was a common occurrence in the generations before vaccinations and good medical care. But the heartfelt inscription indicated the loss was no less painful for those parents.
As I sipped my wine from a plastic flute, my imagination soared. I found myself assigning faces, personalities, and settings to both the deceased and their survivors. I found myself making up stories in my head and wishing I had taken my laptop to the concert.
I began to glance around at the other concertgoers and wondered about their lives and their stories. Where had they lived, traveled, worshipped, worked, and raised their families? Who might be dealing with chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, divorce or the recent death of a loved one? When they laid their heads on their pillows each night, what was on their minds just before going to sleep?
I went to the concert to relax and take a break from writing. But my mind wouldn’t shut down and let me simply enjoy the music and the pleasant breeze. I’ve heard other authors of fiction mention this sometimes-frustrating phenomenon. Every situation we encounter and every person we meet inspires us to write. Fortunately, retirement affords me time to write every day.
Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories, a novella, Diary in the Attic, and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room, and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com