A Funeral in Winter

I felt like such a voyeur taking this picture. But it hit me so hard, I felt compelled to do so.

There I was, driving my car, awash in happy holiday cheer, when I glanced to my left and this scene slapped me across the face. A cemetery with a newly constructed altar and a small group standing before it.

You can understand why I went cold. It was so horribly out of place. People gathered around a grave, paying their last respects, don't belong in a world that's singing Christmas carols and bustling about buying gifts. January is the time for dying. All the statistical evidence backs this up. There's a rash of deaths after Christmas and New Year's; people are supposed to hold out. One last Christmas Eve savoring a lit tree, one last Christmas morning watching gleeful faces unwrap presents, one final countdown to midnight. You're supposed to make it to the new year. You don't go dying in the midst of all the merriment when the rest of the world can't share in your loved ones' grief.

And maybe that's why I took the picture. As a reminder that it doesn't matter what's supposed to happen or what the statistics say, death doesn't play by the rules. People do die before Christmas.

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