There’s a ridge that runs across the prairies. It was once the beach of the prehistoric Lake Agassiz. Fed by glacial meltwater at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and at times it held more water than contained by all lakes in the world today.
It is on that ridge that my parents’ bodies lay buried. Their bones now mingle with the fossils of ancient fish and salamander and water fowl.
Their unassuming graves lay just feet away from a stand of towering poplar trees. These trees have withstood the harsh winds, cold snows, and blistering heat that shapes the prairies. They are sturdy and courageous and they know how to find nourishment even in the sandy soil of the ridge. The roots of those trees will now feed on the decay of my parents’ bodies. The green leaves that will grow in the Spring will be richer because my mom and dad lend them their nourishment.
I will stand in the shade of those trees, come summer, and know that my mom and dad are still there, caring for me, feeding me, mingling with the soil and the trees and the dirt of centuries of history.
It matters to me, this knowledge that my roots are now entwined with the roots of these beautiful trees, and that the bones of my mom and dad are now mingled with the history of the prairies. It matters to me that the cycle of life goes on and that even in death, we matter to Mother Earth and she matters to us.
It may seem macabre, but it’s not really. It’s the cycle of life. It’s the way things are meant to be.
We can not extricate ourselves from this deep and meaningful connection.