I didn’t plan it that way but the day seemed to run a different course and before I knew it, I was standing in the most beautiful cemetry surrounded by memories of loved ones who had left this earth. Quite coincidental but it’s also Conrad’s birthday today.
I had offered to drop a colleague off on my way home from work and as we turned into her street, she nonchalantly said, “oh and that’s the memorial park. Have you seen it?” I knew the suburb well but had never known that in the middle of the gridlocked cluster complexes and townhouses that something so out of place co-existed.
I couldn’t resist.
After dropping her off, I drove through the gates to take a look. There was no security guard to stop me, no one to ask why I was there, but I suddenly felt as if I had stepped into a different world uninvited. This was no ordinary cemetry. The name on the gate read Fourways Memorial Park. The single paved street snaked through rows of closely packed gravestones and beautiful gardens. But compared to other cemeteries, this one was different.
I climbed out the car and walked around, winding my way in and out of the maze of memories, captivated by the stories, the names, the dates. Jo’burg had just been blessed with one of its spectacular afternoon thunder showers and as the setting sun poked its head through the clouds, the wet grass lightly sprayed my ankles as I made my way from one side of the park to the other.
It was so peaceful and calming. Dead quiet. But I kept hearing echoes of laughter. This was not a sad place at all yet tears poured down my face.
It’s on everyone’s minds at the moment. This end of year rush! This frantic race to get to the end. The last dash before the holidays. Yet time stood still for me this afternoon.
If anything it allowed me to stop to catch my breath. To reflect on 2016, my family, my friends, work and then lastly to remember Conrad.