I had the sorrowful task the other day of digging a grave for a much loved cat who passed entirely unexpectedly. And as might be imagined that got me thinking; if only in the deliberate practice of placing a positive image at the forefront of one’s mind rather than a negative one.  Think of the good times! How easy to say! Gah.

But in any case, thinking.  One of the things that many casual visitors ask when they come here is: ‘Is it haunted?’  Well, no, not in the sense they mean.  Yet, a house like this collects lives around every corner.  At least two, perhaps three, people have died in the house; others have lived here all their lives.*  Some have faded to mere names now…  ‘Daddy Will’s Room’ no one alive now knew him; but the name remains.

As for the animals….they are a veritable army.  It takes time, time to not see a certain horse in a certain stall; it will take time to not expect an enthusiastic grey cat behind a door, even though he was a part time guest and not a full time resident.  And yet, for all the difficulty that presents in the near future that physical association is a valuable one.  That horse?  Indeed all those horses? I can walk into the barn and see them, even hear them, so easily just around the corner.  In our highly mobile lives we have lost such physical links to memory.  When you do not pass by a site which is associated with someone daily, and that person (or animal) is no longer alive; the memories are buried deeply.  They may well resurface unexpectedly; but they are not a part of life.  When I did not live here for a time those horses, even the ones still living, were distant: they were less real alive, then they are now dead.

This is, as I see it, the value of a grave for those who do not have a ‘family home’. It is a physical reminder in a way that a photograph is not.  Many of the cats buried here did not in fact live here.  It is no bad thing to recollect them as I walk down that path.  I often don’t think of them, of course; but sometimes I do, without intending to do so.  I can’t say I mind.

Now I can see how too much memory which is negative, too many lives…. that weight might be unbearable.  One would do well to leave then.  And one would be very wise to deliberately look to tomorrow; let yesterday come to mind as it will, a welcome guest but not invited.*

When place and memory are linked to the now, a fourth dimension, time, is forcibly added to one’s existence in a very physical way.   We carry the understanding of that dimension, of time, within us; but the physical presence makes it that much stronger.  Indeed, strong enough to almost be a presence, if not a ghost.  Not constant, of course, but there around the shifting corner of the mind’s eye. A great army of ghosts. A deep richness that time, that grief, and life alone can bring.


*Before the family bought it there may have been others.  And as always, a lovely embellishment: some one was murdered here! Well, no, probably not…at least there is no record of it.  Embellishment, almost as popular as ‘George Washington slept here!’

*I might add, the person or animal need not have died to be remembered in a place; they need simply to be physical absent.