It used to be that I took note of the name and notation about the life of whomever was commemorated in the plaque affixed to the bench where I sat or at the base of a tree that caught my eye. I know that people donate money for these benches and lampposts not only to make beautiful a public space, but to keep alive the memory of their beloved.
This sign bearing her name is proof that she lived; that she’ll be remembered, and that her life made the world a better place. Much like this bench or lamppost, tree or building does.
Since my Dad died, I don’t view these plaques the same. While I acknowledge the need the plaques satisfy, with everyone I catch myself holding my breath and I try to avoid reading the inscription.
Every lifespan that I come across is gauged against my Dad’s. Will I feel robbed of years with him because some unknown person lived longer and their children had more time with them? Or will I feel guilty for feeling lucky that I had more years with Dad then they did.
I wish I was a better person and able to see beyond my own personal story to again celebrate those listed on the sign and to feel gratitude for reminding me about my own loved one. But I also wonder, am I’m the only one who does this; is this human nature?