Attention Being Paid

As I read about other Capital Fringe shows "selling out" I feel painful jealous twinges and want to whine about it.

The truth is I expected coming into the Capital Fringe this year that I would have small audiences .... and I have. After-all my subject is Arlington National Cemetery and directly or obliquely the presence of death in the world.

So that is why I was so grateful for a note this morning that reminds me why I am telling this story. I received an email from a wise and dear friend who was in the audience yesterday and her words touch me with healing.  She understands and puts into words what I set out to do -

"I really was so glad that I saw the show.  You did a great job.  I know that discussing  death is very difficult not only for you personally, but as a subject that most of us avoid.  You showed warmth and compassion for not only your story, but for those others who share the space.  As the wife of Willy Loman says in "Death of a Salesman"  "Attention must be paid." "

My southern childhood was a bit haunted. It included Sunday afternoons at the cemetery and stories to keep their memories alive. I grew up feeling that I knew so many I would never see. Genealogy re-enforced that when I searched for forgotten family members. Many of my family stories are about those I never knew but who live in my imagination.

August 1st is the first anniversary of my husband's burial at Arlington. National Cemetery.  In some traditions they place the tombstone on the one year anniversary.  Jim already has his tombstone, placed by Arlington last February. I am telling this story for myself  - as a private marker for this year anniversary - his anniversary is not part of the story.

Nov. 2011 - Gretchen's 50th birthday
I will continue to tell the story - not just for Jim and our daughter who was buried at Arlington 47 years ago - but for the other neighbors of my Forever Home I am learning about and their family members I have met this year and will continue to meet. Hopefully this story will comfort those who chose to hear it.
I am reminded of the African folktale which gives us the wisdom that "no person is truly dead as long as they are remembered."

My friend is so right in reminding me and anyone else, "Attention must be paid."

For me Arlington National Cemetery, and every other cemetery, are places of " attention and remembering"
where the living
can take moments to "Pay Attention." even if it means acknowledging that we too will take our place there one day.

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