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On my walk yesterday, I deviated from my usual route, heading toward the church graveyard. This time of the year always moves me to consider my dead.

The last time I visited Tommy's grave, it was on the Blessing of the Graves, Cemetery Sunday, during the weekend of the town's annual Show Day, when Wild Roses trawl the heaving bars, in shiny sashes and summer dresses, and wildflowers sway in unmown gardens.

In rural Ireland, the Blessing of the Graves is that time of year when a community forms around their remembered dead for a morning. From the church, a solemn crowd streamed toward the graveyard. During the rite, Siun played, oblivious, at the edge of her grandfather's grave, which was adorned in plastic floral bouquets not yet faded by the sun. After everyone mumbled the rosary, the priest walked from grave to grave, sprinkling holy water.

Now I shivered, alone, remembering the summer. How Bernie did not smile until very recently: "Grieving, enduring. I won't say moving on." From the graveside, I could see the layout of the town: the housing estates, the football field, schools, factories, and community center. The local mountain, wreathed in mist, a ghostly beauty. I can't believe it's already November.


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