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Visit to Forest Hills Cemetery

Monday 10/16/23

I did much yesterday morning, as I do most mornings, and one of those things was to go out to Forest Hills Cemetery on the Orange Line. I'd gone to bed at nine the night before, and arose on Sunday at 2:30--the kind of early start I like.

I hadn't been to Forest Hills in some time, though it's a place I have visited regularly over many years now. Like Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, it's a place for walking, being out in nature, birding, being present. You're not strolling around some place of the interred dead, so much as you are spending time in a setting that invites contemplation as to life. I find it helpful and good for the soul, and my next moves in all of that in which I'm dealing with and embroiled. I regather, and I find energy here. It is essential, in my view--especially in my situation--to always be acquiring energy.

The cemetery, which was established in 1848, consists of 275 acres. E.E. Cummings is buried here, but I admit that I don't know where, as of yet. Not where I tend to walk, it seems.

I read many of the headstones, and I always make a point of visiting one I first became aware of more than twenty years ago, which gives an idea how long I've been going to this spot. That would be the marker for Mary May, wife of Samuel, who lived to be ninety-five, at a time when hardly anyone did. If you look closely at the bottom, you'll see the quote, "She hath done what she could," which I love.

What more needs to be said? What more can be asked of any of us? And what could be better said about any of us if we truly did what we could? But how many ever do?

There are stories everywhere in a place like this. There are stories all around us, of course, but here the stories are suggested in words. Consider, for example, the very young married couple, and how early she left this world. What happened? When were they first married? Then he went on living and it would seem like he went on living alone, for twenty-five years. "DIVIDED BUT FOR A TIME."


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