Days of the Dead

There are the living, those whose lives we see before us, those encased in flesh. There are the dead, those whose bodies have ceased their functions, but whose living memory we carry within the mystery of memory. All tolled, how many names qualify? How many are living, and how many still live inside us? Does that number surpass those who no longer survive within the confines of a beating heart? How many nameless souls have walked this earth who are now forgotten? Having been forgotten, can we even say they existed at all? Perhaps the sum total of the living and the remembered dead are all who ever were or ever will be, cycling and recycling through lifetime after lifetime until no one remains who knows them; so that then they move on. Or perhaps it is those unremembered souls who qualify for rebirth into a new body, to be newly acknowledged and newly named. It is the name which anchors us to memory. It is the name which is the handle to which we grasp and hold onto a life. Let us remember now the unremembered dead. That lonely seamstress, that orphaned steam-fitter, that murdered slave. All those Aztecs and Summerians and Neanderthals. The nameless thousands who gave their lives for the Panama Canal and the Transcontinental railroad. The Cheyenne and the Sioux. The unknown soldiers. The bushmen and the weavers and the Norseman of the coasts. They were husbands and fathers and daughters and wives. They were people who toiled and dreamed. They are nameless but they are with us still. You breathe them as molecules, you receive them as beams of light.


4 thoughts on “Days of the Dead

  1. The meaning, or even knowledge, of “All Souls” or “All Saints” day is probably lost on the vast majority today. My son, who is a Lutheran minister, has taught me what little I know. Your post gives a new perspective. Thanks.

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