I see that November is coming and I think, “Hang on, girl” because every year, both Allerheiligen (All Saints day) and Allerseelen (All Souls day) teach me.
That’s, well, only a part of it all. Just two glimpses into how these days have molded me.
There was a lot of personal impact-laden death around me in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, all my “you’re a foreigner” trouble started in Switzerland, I was beaten by the man I thought I’d marry, and two men that were touchstones for me unexpectedly died (less than 2 months apart). Happy New Year in 2010, as my parents divorced shortly after lawyers/judges returned from ski vacations, my family split in half, Granddaddy died, L’s mother died, and Annie overdosed. It was a lot.
So, these two days mean a great deal for me every year. I quietly reflect on November 1st and 2nd. I remember all those I’ve lost – some are actually still living and others are dead. All Saints and All Souls days are contemplative for me. Not dark, just contemplative.
For the past four years of my life, I have spent Allerheiligen at Bibiana’s grave, and this year was no exception. I learned a profoundly important lesson this year.
A man was adorning the grave beside Bibiana’s. He had tears falling from his eyes onto the grave.
I literally cannot handle it when someone is crying. So, I said, “es macht die Erde gesunder” and I put a hand on his shoulder. (It makes the soil/earth healthier.)
When I put my hand on his shoulder, he flinched. I am not sure he even realized someone was there. I pulled my hand away quickly (sometimes, I forget that I am in Switzerland, where you are not supposed to have “so much sunshine all the time”) and he…pulled it back. He squeezed my hand and said, “Stimmt.” (True that!)
After he left, I put one of the candles I had for Bibiana (I had 5, plus the Easter candle I made at church last Easter, I had a rather Texas amount to begin with…) on the grave of his loved one. He came quickly back, took one of the flowers he’d used for his loved one, and put it on Bibiana’s grave!
We are living Saints. All of us. We are all connected.
Written from a train from Luzern to Bern, 01.11.2015