Not many of us make the grade for the position I hold in this life. We have to have come through many lifetimes before we are even considered and our current infant mortality rate is very high. But I am one of the lucky ones. I have survived. I had a very strong feeling that I would – an unshakable faith that kept me going through the difficult times. I had to go through a rigorous training programme before I signed up. That was one of the criteria for accepting such a critical assignment. I knew the risks and I agreed to them without a moment’s doubt. I felt I was ready for the role. It was time for a new challenge. Nevertheless, it was a difficult time watching the young ones around me perish and die. I hadn’t expected it to be so hard seeing their strength ebb away and sensing their resignation as they weakened and withered to nothing.
Despite such trauma and emotional pain, I have to admit to a feeling of relief when they came to move me to my new quarters where my work would begin. It was a long journey over rough terrain and I was therefore glad when I arrived in one piece ready to take up my post and continue my growth and development. It was also good to see that my work station was already full of many others who had arrived before me and made a great success of their position.
I don’t really know how best to describe my role. I guess it is a cross between a protector and a counsellor but many people during the day come to spend time with me. Often they have tears in their eyes as they lean against me for support and comfort.
Even though I have only made that one journey in my life when I was very young, I feel that I have still seen a lot of the World. I stand still but all of life comes to me. If I could only tell of all I have seen. When people come to me they are often in terrible pain, laid bare, their faces contorted in anguish. I feel I can help to calm them and to find peace. I use all of my own energy to give them the inner strength to move forward and deal with some of the worst grief and sadness.
One young girl used to come to see me every single day. She was having a really difficult time dealing with her emotions following the loss of her mother. She would sit leaning against me and sobbing uncontrollably. I didn’t have to do anything really – just be there for her – sturdy and dependent. She came to know me very well and she knew that she could trust me. She would talk to me at each visit and eventually, over many months and years, her broken heart started to mend. It wasn’t easy and I don’t think she will ever be quite the same person again but she did eventually find a kind of acceptance.
Another of my weekly visitors was a very tall, polite gentleman. He never quite seemed to know what to do or say and seemed very incongruous and uncomfortable in his suit and tie. He simply used to sit very quietly by my side; still and silent but I like to think that he took some comfort from me.
That was over one hundred years ago and I have lived a full life indeed. I have seen many people come and go in this place and I like to think in some small way, I have been able to help every one of them. I don’t receive so many visitors now. The relatives of the person I am protecting have all moved on and as I reach the end of my own life, it will also be time for me to move on.
My limbs have become dry and bent over and my body has become gnarled and twisted. It is time for me to meet my maker again. Not that he was ever very far away in my role. I would often hear his voice in the whisper of the wind. I am so proud of what I have achieved during this life time. I know that when I leave this earth, I will do so with a glad heart. I often see the spirits of those I have protected and in the last few days they have been calling to me more often – beckoning me to join them on a higher plain full of love and light.
Looking back now I cannot believe that I was once a tiny sapling. I grew into such a large tree and by the end of my long existence, I took pride of place right in the heart of the cemetery. People would come to visit me and remark on my sturdiness, energy and beauty. What an honour to have served amongst the souls of men. If I could have my time all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.