Thursday, July 26, 2012
Several years ago, a kid on a motorcycle lost control and slammed into a light pole. He was killed. For several years thereafter, a stone marker sat there at the base, the scene of the death. I don't know who put it there, but my bet would be friends of the kid, not the parents, even though today, more than a decade later, they may well be the only ones who find it hard to pass that light pole.
For years a sign along a country road marked the spot where another kid died, this one in a car. I didn't know either of the kids, but both of their deaths were memorialized for a long, long time by sweet displays of grief that eventually simply disappeared. I'm sure today their stones stand in the Sioux Center cemetery, along with a thousand others.
I'm an inveterate graveyard wanderer. Just a few weeks ago, I spent an hour in the family plot, 500 miles east; but family stones aren't a requirement. I like cemeteries whether or not there are relative there--all kinds of cemeteries, the older the better. Graveyards are redolent with stories that rise half-formed from all the granite.
In Aurora, Colorado, these days, a debate has arisen about the Century theater where madman James Eagan Holmes killed a dozen theater-goers and wounded 70 others. “It would be difficult to go in there and relax, knowing what happened,” a woman who lives nearby told the Huffington Post. “I think it will always be remembered as the place where the shooting occurred.”
I think she's wrong. Human forgetfulness is both a curse and a blessing. Sometimes it erases what it shouldn't, but just as often it liberates us from the tyranny of grief and personal horror. The families of those who died in that theater will never forget what happened there because they will never forget their loved ones, but the psyches of the rest of us will eventually have to make room for tragedies yet to come, yet to horrify. There's only so much room in human consciousness. This year, high school kids will go to school in Columbine, where I'm sure, there will be a prom, a homecoming, and dozens of ball games.
Not that anyone in Aurora cares about my views, but I think Century 16 Theater, in Aurora, Colorado, needs to remodel the place to help us along, and then reopen. Life needs to go on, and the families of those who were killed there will have their memorials set in the ground of some local cemetery.
Fifty years ago, an old woman died in the house we just left, died in the room where we kept our TV. Life went on.
There will always more death, more tears, more anguish--more motorcycle accidents and accidental deaths; here in this country there will be even more inexplicable mass murders. Change the place, alter the looks, remodel the theater, I say, but put the memory of those who died in the cemetery, where those memories belong.
A cemetery is a great place for death, for grief, and, strangely enough, for life, a wonderful place to visit and from which to walk away.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:31 AM