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Jessica Mesman

Every day, people are going in the ground back there. I watch the ceremonies as I brush my teeth and pluck my eyebrows in the bathroom mirror.

The weather is warming, finally, and mourners linger at the mounds. This is the hardest thing to get used to in the new house, these seven windows overlooking two hundred acres of cemetery.

This is a real house, or at least half of a whole, the left side of a duplex with an upstairs and a downstairs and an office for Dave and a finished cellar. And it’s in a real neighborhood, with families, not students. The front of the house overlooks the Pittsburgh familiars: row houses and cracked streets caught in tangled nets of power and telephone lines. But we might have moved here for the rear view: an expanse of soft, rolling greensward, thickets of trees and crosses and angels and the occasional spray of flowers. At night, tiny red lights appear on the graves, and it’s so dark they seem to float in space like some celestial event. I wonder who lights all those candles.

The rear view feels important and unavoidable. Knowing what happens there every day makes it hard to ignore. When there is a funeral on, I feel an obligation to reverence. Even when there isn’t a funeral, I find myself standing at the window, watching the grass grow on the fresh mounds, waiting to see which mourners return.

I spend the spring watching from the window. Grass grows quicker than you’d think: thick, waxy, and stubborn. Mourners carry maps, unfolded and flapping in the damp breeze, a hand over their eyes, trying to get their bearings.

In Louisiana, where most of my family is buried, you have to put people in crypts and tombs and mausoleums, or they will wash away. When my dad told me this, I thought he meant it figuratively. New Orleans is below sea level, and the ground is saturated, unstable; bodies must decompose more quickly. Thus the great postcard cemeteries—tourist attractions, ghettos of watermarked concrete and crumbling stone. But he meant it literally, that floodwaters might carry bodies off in the tide. I imagine my mother’s body floating down Canal Street toward the Mississippi River, her hair grown around her ankles like a Pre-Raphaelite painting, like Ophelia. The hair keeps growing, doesn’t it? The hair and the nails.

Here in Pittsburgh, most people go in the ground. Only the very wealthy are buried in vaults: the Fricks and the Heinz and the Melons. They rest in Millionaire’s Row, Section 14, near the lake. A guided tour called “You Can’t Take It With You” takes groups through Section 14 in the morning, before it gets too hot.

The less impressive plots are in our backyard, Section 26, on the other side of a spiked wrought-iron fence that separates Kirtland Street from Homewood Cemetery. Most of the graves in Section 26 belong to black families. The landmark is an iron waste can, screwed into the ground and usually filled with dead flowers and faded ribbons. These plots don’t have headstones. They have no aboveground markers, just engraved plaques mounted flush with the earth. There’s no room for epigraphs or poetry or angels. Just the name and two dates.

By summer all the plaques are obscured with thick new grass, resilient and springy and insistent and so green, Kelly green, Astroturf green, and those maps flapping in the breeze only get you so far before you end up on your hands and knees, pushing back the blades to read the markers.

All summer I wake to faint shouts from men on riding mowers.

I start the day in Sections 26-29. Our neighbors, Michael and Kim, removed two of the spiked fence posts behind their storage shed so that we can shimmy in and out of the iron gate and cut through the cemetery to Squirrel Hill, where there is a Starbucks and a Barnes and Noble. Otherwise you have to walk all the way around, down Willard Street and then the long, gradual incline of Dallas Avenue. If you go the other way on Willard, you end up in Frick Park, a stretch of virgin forest that hints at how staggering Pittsburgh was in the days before streets and avenues, industry.

I once got lost in the cemetery, long before we moved to Kirtland Street, before Dave. During my first summer in Pittsburgh, I took my dog for a long walk in the park and ended up among the Homewood graves, where every path I took seemed to circle back on itself like an asp eating its tail. Everything looked familiar but led nowhere. I saw houses and made my way through the tall grass toward them, only to find the street walled off by an endless iron gate. Some kids pounded a basketball in the dead end. I called to them through the ivied fence posts, hoping for directions. They didn’t, wouldn’t answer me. They pretended not to see me. Or they didn’t see me.

It was so hot that I took off my shirt and wrapped it around my head like a turban, so that I was just in my sports bra. I stood with hands on hips, biting my lip. My dog, Phoebe, panting and thirsty, wanted to stretch out in the shade of some nearby trees.

Nobody will know where to look for us, I told her. She watched me expectantly, waiting to take my lead. Nobody even knows we’re here. She panted on, thirsty and innocent.

I wonder if those were Michael and Kim’s or Mo’s kids that I asked for directions, if that was Kirtland Street floating on the sward like an aircraft carrier stacked with red bricks and shingles. It must have been. Our backyards are cemetery green. The houses are built right up to the spiked gate, to the very edge of the Homewood property line. And there is a basketball goal at the dead end of our street, near Mo’s driveway. And Laney and Aaron and Sarah and James know better than to talk to strangers.

Pheobe and I trudged on. Just as the sun began to sink and real despair began to settle on my chest, the cemetery spit us back into the park at the scenic entrance. I could see my car parked a few feet away. I feared the park for a while after that and wouldn’t go in without a friend. But since we moved here I’ve gotten to know the lay of the land well enough to trust myself alone. I know now that it’s nearly impossible to get lost if you stay on the main paths, which are wide and paved and well traveled. I’m not sure what happened to me that day. I guess I was never really lost. I just panicked.

Dave is away for the summer, and I walk the cemetery paths every morning when I am supposed to be writing. I end up at the Barnes and Noble in Squirrel Hill, reading about the early days of Pittsburgh. Mr. Wilkins, Secretary of War under President Tyler, sold part of his Homewood Estate for development as a cemetery, a necessity in a rapidly developing industrial city. Church and family graveyards were overflowing, and the accepted medical opinion was that the fumes from the corpses were passing communicable diseases to the living.

I read a lot of psychology and religion, too, because that’s where my favorite chair is. I read Jung and Adam Phillips and The Noonday Demon and The Interpretation of Dreams and Welcome to My Country. I would have made a good psychotherapist, I think. I understand how people think and why people do what they do. It’s one of those things I’m always saying. But I’m also thinking that I should have been a high school English teacher, or a librarian, or an archivist, or anything besides this. Whatever this is. Sitting in a chair by the window, watching people pass on Murray Avenue two stories below.

At noon I walk to Shadyside to the little office above the hardware store, and I work there until 6 p.m. At work I deal with other people’s writing.

I chose the office for the afternoons because that’s when the lethargy hits, the overwhelming immobility. It sinks in around 3 p.m. and lasts until the sun disappears.

My plan was to write every morning and then work at the journal through the dull, hot afternoons. In the mornings, when the day is new and there is no accumulation, I have energy. I sit at my laptop and try to make progress. Every morning, I turn on the computer and wait for the words to appear on the screen. So far they haven’t.

So I walk through Section 26: The Black Families. This requires walking on graves. The path to Squirrel Hill cuts through Section 28: The Greeks, where markers are above the ground, but still simple and dignified, carved with names like Tsourekis, Kefalos, Katsafanas. There is a simple stone cruciform between trees sculpted like cones, a Victorian topiary. I’ve read that there’s a pyramid somewhere in here.

Dave swears he can break me of my writers’ block. We talk on the phone every few days while he’s away.

“Try covering the monitor with a towel,” he says. “That works for my students.”

But it’s like talking to a therapist. I think that I can see through all the tricks and manipulations. The only time I can write is when I’m on assignment. When someone else tells me a story, and all I have to do is get it on the paper. I’m a redactor.

“Well, give yourself an assignment,” Dave says, yawning.

He teaches fiction for ten hours a day at the art school for brilliant teenagers, and then he drinks with the poet in residence, who lives next door in the faculty housing. They play bocce on their lunch breaks and surrealist parlor games at night. He’s never been more creatively stimulated.

“Make something happen.”

Make something happen.

I wake to the sounds of machinery, something more than the usual mowers. Men shouting over the repetitive tones of something large and yellow backing up. Beep. Beep. Beep. They are breaking new ground back there, making space for more bodies.

Dave and I are the youngest people on Kirtland Street, and we are living in the only rental. Our neighborhood is gentrifying. The old Pittsburghers are dying off or moving to more manageable properties, where someone else will salt the sidewalk and replace the gutters and mow the steep lawn. Young families are moving in, young mothers who can afford to stay at home, fathers who are architects and college professors and contractors. Families with young children. Their basketballs bounce in the street at 8 a.m.

One day Mo’s youngest, James, pogo-ed for eight minutes straight. I timed him. I was on the porch with a beer and a cigarette. After about five minutes of him hammering the concrete, the other neighbors began drifting onto their porches, and we all stared at him and then at each other, shaking our heads. Even he looked surprised. He’s big, unathletic, all blond hair and baby fat. Eventually he grew overconfident and lost his center of gravity and finally, after eight minutes, an eternity on a pogo stick, he went down. He’d made it look so easy that a couple of the dads tried to top him, but none of them could bounce more than three times. When they gave up, James remounted the pogo for a victory lap, but he couldn’t beat his own record.

“I can’t do it,” he said, to no one in particular, to the whole street.

But he keeps trying. I can hear the springs from the pogo stick squeaking away while I stare at an empty computer screen. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Rest. Squeak. Squeak. Rest.

This street is a real neighborhood, with neighbors who take out the garbage cans when we forget, who check on me while Dave is away. This is not like my old neighborhood, my apartment in Friendship where I found a drunk guy in my kitchen one night. Not like Friendship at all, where neighbors stole my mail. Here, Dave and I are the youngest, and the neighbors give us advice and leftovers.

There are only a couple of old-timers left. Mossy, the Mayor of Kirtland Street, wears Ray Ban aviator shades and mows all the lawns on the top of the hill, which makes Dave feel guilty. But Mossy is in better shape than Dave. He’s tough and wiry and tan, and he roams the street sweaty and shirtless, a beer can in one hand, trailed by his golden lab, Spirit. Mossy has lived here since he was born, in the same house, with his Irish mother. But she died just before Dave and I moved in, and now he’s selling the house and moving to a condo out past the mall.

“That’s sad,” I tell Kim while we cut stalks of mint, which has overwhelmed her garden and overtaken her backyard and even some of ours. “Sad for us,” she says. “But Mossy is ready for a change.”

Before he goes, he’s determined to kill the groundhogs. There’s a family of them living under our storage shed. A mama and her three baby ground hogs. They have eaten most of Michael’s and Kim’s vegetable garden and the strawberry tops out of a trash bag I left on the back porch. They are nibbling on the tomatoes Dave’s mom helped me plant when she visited. I see the patterns of their teeth in the leaves.

Sometimes I see Mossy standing out there in front of the storage shed, his hands on his hips, daring them to come out.

“Don’t underestimate those little fuckers,” he says. “They could kill a small dog.”

He has me terrified of groundhogs. When I slip past the storage shed to shimmy through the gate, I tread lightly and quickly, whipping my head around at the slightest noise or motion, imagining a Rodent of Unusual Size leaping out from under the shed to sink its long yellow teeth into my calf.

Magda is the other old-timer, almost one hundred years old. She lives in the second to last house on the right. She is Hungarian, Mo tell us, and worked for most of her life as an art restorer for the Melon’s. She only comes out once a year, for the Kirtland Street block party, where she hands out Peppermint Patties, chain smoking and saying indistinguishable things that sound like they should be funny, so we laugh. She sounds like Marlene Deitrich on dope.

“Now she’s got stories,” Mo tells me. Mo is an aging hippie with a bumper-stickered mini van and a neon peace sign glowing in his upstairs window. He’s wearing a homemade T-shirt that says George Bush is a Terrorist and flipping burgers on a grill parked under James’s basketball goal. “Someone should write a book about her.”

But Magda is dark and does not socialize. She is very kind for the ten minutes she visits the block party. She shakes hands while swiveling on her cane. She smiles at all the children. But I see the part of her that only wants to go back inside, to pull the shades and turn on a game show and flick her ashes into an empty beer can. I see it. She doesn’t have to tell me. I see it under the pancake make-up, two shades too dark, and the lipstick all outside of the lines. Magda’s got stories I’ve got no rights to.

Dave is home for the block party. Mossy and Kim and Mo set up a long buffet table in the middle of the street. Mo grills the burgers, and everyone brings a dish to share. The kids throw water balloons and mark where they land with chalk. They stand in pairs a few paces apart and throw an egg back and forth until it drops. James pogos hopefully.

The neighbors ask what we do, and we have to tell them. Thank God for Dave, who can talk to anyone, and who has a legitimate job at the university. When I say “editor” people think newspaper, or magazine. Then I have to tell them “literary journal” and when I do it always sounds like a pamphlet, or something we are pasting together in our basement. But when I tell my neighbors, they care! They are interested! They want to read our latest issue on health care! I drink another beer and gain more confidence.

Mossy has moved all his unwanted furniture out on the front lawn, and we mill around it looking for things we might want, like an old set of glasses hand painted with tiny flowers. I sit on his porch with my beer and rub Spirit’s white belly. Mossy’s truck is parked in the street, and someone has hung a piece of poster board on the tailgate that reads “Goodbye Mossy, Mayor of Kirtland Street.” Everyone crowds around him to take a picture. I try to avoid it, but when they call to me, I stand in the back and feel a little foolish at how happy it makes me.

They, all of them, every day, make us feel welcome. They wave from their porches when we get home from work.

Everyone asks how we like the neighborhood, and we say we love it, we feel so lucky to have found this place, and Mo says yeah, if only it were more diverse. And I realize then that Kirtland Street is white, white people and their Volkswagens, their Volvos, their minivans.

Mo says this was an old Irish Catholic neighborhood, and a pretty tough one at some point, if Mossy is any indication. Mossy used to come home late at night, bloody from fistfights. His mother even punched an unfortunate salesman who knocked on their door. But the neighborhood is even older than that.

This street was made of stones, Magda says, cigarette dangling, and so steep that horses crumbled on their way to the summit. So they shot them, she says, and buried them right here, where we built our homes. She leans into her cane and swivels around with her arm outstretched. These houses are all built on horse bones.

I notice that the woman from two doors down, who recently had a stroke and now spends all her daylight hours parked on her front porch in a wheelchair, has a piece of pasta dangling from her chin. I am staring at that mushy white whisker when she smiles at me, her eyes foggy. I look at the ground. In seven months, on Valentine’s Day, I will watch them carry her out of her home on a stretcher.

The sky turns dark with rain, and our friends begin to arrive as the families retreat indoors. Mo gives us the leftover burgers. Dave helps clear the street and then sits with our friends on the porch, drinking beer and smoking.

This is too close to suburbia, to home, for some of them.

I am making coffee when I hear the woman singing. It sounds like she’s in my backyard. When I look through the kitchen window, all I see is a hearse and a limousine parked in the path just beyond our storage shed. It looks like rain. The woman’s voice is big and creaky. I want to see this woman. I run upstairs to Dave’s office and sit at his desk, where I can see it all: the largest service yet, an entire family circling a fresh mound, and a woman, smaller than her voice and wearing a hat with a wide brim. Then they are all singing loudly and clapping and the song isn’t a sad song, not a dirge. It is beautiful and muscular, and even more sad. I want to throw open the window and say, “ I can hear you!” or “It’s working!” But instead I just look at my reflection, empty and pale in the glass.

The summer holidays are especially bad. Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day. It hurts more to know why these people are drifting to the graves near our gate. This is when people come alone and stand singly with head bowed. Or they kneel, trying to clear the marker of the stubborn overgrowth. On my mom’s birthday, June 25, I wonder if my dad goes to her grave. I’m sure he doesn’t. But part of me hopes that he sneaks away from my stepmother for just a few minutes, takes a spin through the cemetery on his lunch break. I have a fantasy that he still visits her, still sits on the stone bench next to the mausoleum wall and mourns. That he hasn’t forgotten her, even though he never says her name. I choose a grave at random and leave a flower I cut from Kim’s garden.

While Dave is away, my girlfriends and I try to do things that girls do. Rachael and Laura and I make mint julep iced tea and read tarot cards. There’s something elegant about drinking Jim Beam and playing cards at Rachael’s vintage kitchen table, something clandestinely feminine, something 1945. Rachael lays the cards on the table slowly, with drama and precision, slapping one over another, first vertically, then horizontally, forming a cross. A thunderstorm is pushing the trees into her kitchen windows. She flips the first card over with a snap. If the image is upside down, it means something. All my cards are upside down. We have to consult the directions. The outlook isn’t good.

“This one means there will many obstacles in your path,” she says. And like Rachael always does, she tries to make this sound positive. “You’re just going to work very hard for a great success,” she says.

Another blank document.

I can’t seem to get a complete sentence on paper, except “Why are you doing this?”

On the way to Barnes and Noble this morning, I saw a new monument under construction in Section 24, a circular temple with simple Doric columns and a smooth stump for sitting. Her body is already in the ground, but they are just getting the words on the stone. She was 32, Pittsburgh born and Pittsburgh died. By the time I walk home, I see her parents will be buried on either side of her.

It’s hot, and my armpits are growing damp. It’s too hot to walk or write, or think. It’s after 3 p.m. on a Saturday with no office and no intern for distraction. I turn on the fan I’ve jammed into the open window and the oscillating fan on the bedside table. I strip down to my underwear and lay on the bed, on top of the covers.

I am craving that feeling I used to have when I was little, when the pages just came so naturally, and it was as fun as reading Sweet Valley High. Who cares if I never finished a story? At least I could start. I had a million beginnings. When did writing become so sick-making?

I’m just not going to do it anymore, I told Dave last night. I’m just going to stop and do something else.

Good, he said. I think that’s good.

Good, I said. I’m going to be a librarian. I’m going to get a real job, like a normal person, and I’m going to work normal hours, and then when I get home I will read books for fun and take up a hobby, like gardening.

Do what makes you happy, he said.

But what the hell? Every day I pray for God to show me what it is I’m supposed to be doing. I kneel with head bowed at Sacred Heart on the corner of Walnut Street and Shady Avenue, and I beg, near tears, for God to use me for something. I go to Mass every Sunday and sometimes during the week and sometimes I just stop in the church on my way to work and sit quietly for a few moments, hoping that one of these times, something will happen. I don’t need a Marian vision or a light from the heavens. At this point, I’d take a nudge, a shiver.

Please! I scream silently. Speak up. I think I hear you calling, but I can’t make out what you’re saying.

I thought maybe I should write about my dad. After my mom died, he married an Aarongelical Christian and had a vision of Jesus calling him to the mission field. He sold our house and his business. Here was a Catholic man who had once considered the priesthood, now born again and making it his life’s work to rid the world of Catholicism. This is a good story with built-in tension, I thought, especially in light of my own return to Catholicism. Is it just another protest against my father? Another effort to be contrary? Dave and I have decided to marry in the church, even though we’re already living together, living in sin. We lie to our priest. Our priest! And yet, when I sit down to write, I can’t get further than anecdotes, funny stories. The mood is all wrong. This is not funny, I think. But reverence hides from me. Every sentence I write is marked by a weird, tense hilarity.

Delete. Delete. Delete.

Write about the graveyard, Dave says. Just write it down like you tell it to me.

I’m not writing anymore, remember? I snap.

And who cares if I am obsessed with this graveyard, that all I think about is mortality? That I feel so alienated from God, from what our priest calls agape, the kind of unconditional love only a parent can give?

Who cares that I am so obvious and predictable?

Who cares that I feel responsible for each and every one of those graves? That I have the urge to stand guard and care for them, so that no one wants the love that, if I were in Louisiana, I would give to the one grave that really matters?

Who cares if every day in my own backyard a new mound rises, a new name is carved?

I’m having dreams.
I’m stopped at a traffic light, and the glare from the sun is so intense that I can’t tell if it’s red or green. I turn to the car in the next lane over and notice that my mother is behind the wheel. She looks at me and smiles, shrugs her shoulders. She gives me a thumbs-up. Then she steps on the gas, and is gone.

I call home and she answers the phone. She asks if I can forgive her. Her tone suggests that her absence was nothing more than a trip to the grocery store. I am confused, hurt.

“Aren’t you happy?” she asks.

I’m in maw-maw’s house, sitting at the kitchen table. My mother joins us for dinner. We eat together, have a few drinks. I tell them what’s been going on. They are ghosts, but we talk like three women. It’s all very casual. When I wake up, I can never remember what they’ve told me, but I sense that it was wise, and that we’ve all gotten our acts together.
Why can’t I remember? Is she giving me clues? Or is this just wishful dreaming, my subconscious whispering in my ear? I thought I was over this fantasy of after-life encounter.

I’m always surprised when I wake up and find the pain is still here. It isn’t fading as I get older. It’s evolving. I’m not healing with time, as everyone promised. I’m breaking open in new ways. The pain is changing, shifting, inhabiting new parts of my body. Moving from my stomach to the space behind my eyes, the cords of muscle near my left shoulder blade.

When I was still in college in Louisiana, I once called a radio psychic who was doing a Mother’s Day special on dead mothers. I listened to this woman’s cheerful southern drawl every Sunday afternoon, telling myself this was only kitsch, but on some level I guess I hoped, and still hope, that there is some tangible way for the living to connect with the dead.

I dialed the number on my cell phone, pulled my car over to the side of the road and parked in the shade of one of Baton Rouge’s gothic oaks.

“First of all,” she began when we were on the air, “let me tell you that your mother is here, and she says that you are part of her collection of dolls.”

My mom never collected dolls, I thought.

I wasn’t feeling the presence of the supernatural. The hairs on the back of my neck remained all soft and warm and relaxed. My windows were down and the day was warm and some guy was mowing his lawn and the air swelled like cut grass and honeysuckle. Still, I was not ready to admit defeat. Maybe this collection of dolls stood for something else. Maybe it takes some time for a psychic to warm up.

“So what’s your question, sugar?”

I had my question all ready. It was the question I’d asked in my prayers every night since I’d stopped speaking to my dad when I was 17.

“Well,” I started. “I feel like I need a mentor. Who does my mom think I should turn to for guidance?”

She was quiet for a moment. But just a moment. It was live radio.

“Do you know someone whose name begins with V?” she asked, finally.

I didn’t.

“Or with a ‘V’ anywhere in her name? Or his name? It might be a man.”

I didn’t. Well, Amber is my best friend, and her middle name is Yvette. Did that count?

“Maybe! And, dear, if you don’t know this ‘V’ now, be on the look-out. Because your mom is saying it loud and clear: this ‘V’ will change your life!”

I hung up, feeling some combination of amusement, embarrassment, and disappointment. Who was ‘V’?

Though I thought of this phone call every now and then and shook my head at my own desperation, I never spoke of it again until six years later, lying in bed with Dave, our legs laced together under the covers, voices softening as we drifted into sleep. Even then I told it like I tell all my stories, with an air of amused detachment, and I ended it with a punch line.

And of course, the mysterious ‘V’ never showed.

I expected him to laugh, or snore, suspected he was already asleep. But instead he turned his face to mine and looked at me earnestly.

My name has a ‘V’, he said. And he wasn’t joking.

I didn’t tell him then that each little hair on the back of my neck stiffened like a quill. I just said, God. I guess it does.

The street is quiet. Just the echo of the basketball on pavement. The sound of Kim’s Volvo parallel parking near the curb. Mo calling James for dinner. Dave will be home tomorrow, and time will be up. I type from my journals just to feel my fingers moving on the keyboard.

This place feels powerful, doesn’t it? All these bones. All this too-green grass. There’s history under my feet, and magic.

Make something happen.

I’m superstitious. It’s the Catholicism. I knock on wood. I tread lightly when I walk on the graves, and I ask God to bless the bones that rest here. When we first moved in, I thought I’d be terrified of all this hallowed ground, all those glowing red lights in the darkness. Yet I find it comforting to live with these bones, to walk the paths and read the headstones in the morning quiet. It’s the mourners I find macabre. It’s the living that get to me.

Mourners are always begging for a few more precious seconds. But what would we do if we got them? How can you tell a fleeting apparition or a medium—a stranger— all the things you should have said that you never said? How can you fill folded space with all the things you should have done that you never did? If you were given one more chance to speak to the dead, what could possibly be important enough to say?

When the memorial in Section 24 is finished, the one for the 32-year-old woman—her name was Jill—I see that engravers have carved her eulogy into the stone. Her parents must have written it. It strikes me as passionate, a first draft with no revision. Something her parents wrote while still crying at her bedside. It starts in the third person:

Jill was an artist and a teacher…

She accepted people for who they were…

She was shy as a child and socially sophisticated as a woman…

She had a positive self-image.

But what is the subtext?

She was 34 and alone.

She will be buried with her parents.

Then there is a weird point of view shift. The eulogy becomes a letter, a wail, and a fist pounding the stone, then shaking at the heavens.

We knew the real meaning of grief when we no longer could see your bright face!

Even the engravers are caught up in the furor; they misspell “divine.”


Here, I have to shake my head, throw my hands up. Is there any fitting tribute to the dead? You can spend a season building a monument to see it toppled by a whisper. You can build a thousand stones and sepulchral structures trying to scream, “Jill Watson, We will never forget you!” But in the end, they will only sit and stare in dumb, reverent silence.

The tears of the sorrowing and the sobbing of many a broken heart will consecrate this earth, all these hills and lakes and acres, beyond the feeble power of any words we might say.

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