Camping in the Graveyard

Sometime during the evening of our lives, we become more aware of our mortality, and that of our peers, heroes, and legends from our time.

I remember my dad toward the end of his life becoming more interested in scanning the Navy Times obituaries, looking for and finding those he knew—people he served with or served under—during his long Navy career that touched on three wars: World War II, Korean, and Vietnam. He would remark he didn’t think so many he knew would be in those pages, and likened it to watching a rearview mirror of a life lived.

At the time, I thought scanning for news about those passed on was an odd and morbid habit. But as I approached his age when he did this, I got it. While I have no Navy Times to fish in for news of the departed, my pond is the New York Times obituaries. While not fishing for those I worked/served with, I discover names of writers, musicians, and other public notables from my day. These creative souls bring back memories of my experiences and formative times, much like dad’s recollections upon seeing familiar names.

These thoughts may, as it was for me when Dad shared this habit, seem just as odd and morbid to many who read this. But our passings are natural, an expected phase of life. This should not be news to anyone, although not something we dwell on for most of our lives. Some of us leave too early, some might say too late, but none of us eventually avoid the obvious.

It’s easy to state now that I don’t fear when my time comes, but that’s a luxury of opinion more easily asserted without the grim reaper standing before me. The real insight for me from all the above is to celebrate memories of those who meant something to us when we learn of their passing. Yet such moments should also remind us to live each day in full enjoyment while not wasting time worrying about the inevitable.

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