There was one that was absolutely heartbreaking. This is all it said. No explanation. No dates. The simplicity of it conveys its absolute tragedy:
But that isn't the one that stayed with me the most.
This one is:
Look at that inscription!
I have suffered.
Imagine suffering so much that that is how you would want to be remembered. I'm really curious to find out what happened in his life. Maybe things were so awful that he was completely justified in writing that?
Do you think of yourself as someone who has suffered, or is suffering? I don't usually think of myself that way, although I suspect other people may. Whenever the topic of 'suffering' comes up at church or bible study, people often look to me to see what I think. They obviously think of me as someone who 'has suffered'.
Even if in other people's eyes I am someone who 'has suffered', it is not how I would want to be remembered. I don't want this situation (our suffering apparently) to be the defining thing in my life. I don't want people to think of me and think of suffering.
If people do think of suffering when they think of me I would rather they think of persevering through suffering. Or remaining positive in spite of suffering (I can hear all my friends who know what a pessimistic realist I am laughing out loud at this point).
I don't know, I think I'm rambling. For some reason that headstone has stuck with me. Imagine being so consumed with your suffering that you felt that was all you had to say at the end of your life. That there was nothing else to you or your life's work.
I don't want to be that person, who can only see their own suffering, and is so consumed by it that it defines them. What is the key do you think? How do you not become that person? For me I think the key is perspective.
Yes, my life is more difficult than a lot of my friends, but, really, all my children are alive. We live in a nice area of Sydney. We have food on the table and a roof over our heads. We have PLUMBING. Compared to a lot of people, I am not suffering.
Seeing that headstone really made me think. It made me think about how I see myself, about how others might see me, but mainly it made me think about how I want to live.