I live quite near a graveyard and I often cut through it on my way into town. It’s attached to a liberal “hey guys” sort of Church, so you’re actually encouraged to do this, it’s not me just me dicking around in a long black coat for the hell of it. Also, it’s a very lovely graveyard, if that doesn’t sound an absurd thing to say, but it’s unregimented and a little overgrown, with haphazard markers, of all types and shapes, some half-consumed by time and others as good as smothered by ivy, grass and moss. The truth is, I rather like graveyards in general, not in dark-man-dark-oh-my-tortured-soul way, but because I find them oddly comforting, though it’s not something I can easily articulate. At least, not without sounding like a wanker, and getting all tangled up in faith, and loss, and transience.
Anyway. This. I see this, nearly every day.
The flower is not always bright and blooming, as it is in the photograph I took this afternoon. Sometimes it is faded to the colour of rust and egg-yolk, its petals as brittle as old parchment. But there’s always a flower there. Even in the depths of winter. Even in the greyest rain.
Unfortunately, you can’t see this because of my attempt at photography, but the gravestone is for a member of the Royal Air Force, who died, aged 22, in 1944. Beloved husband, beloved son.
Seventy years on and, still, always a flower for his grave.
It hurts my heart. Grief, endless and immeasurable. And love, I suppose. That too, but so intertwined with pain, petals and grave-dirt.
In truth, I’m semi-obsessed. I’ve taken to hanging around the graveyard when I have nothing else to do, and when it’s not too cold or wet, just hoping to catch a glimpse of the flower bringer. I’ve tried to work out when they’ll come by the fading of the current bloom, but I’ve had no success. Which, let’s be fair, is probably for the best. All very well in the movies but I’m probably on the wrong side of creepy. But I can’t help myself. I wouldn’t do anything to importune a stranger in their ritual or intrude upon the privacy of sorrow but I’m so desperate to witness this thing, this thing that seems to me at once too beautiful and too terrible for real life.