MUSINGS FROM THE GRAVEYARD

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Since Crispin Leads has invested her academic career in the study of burial rituals across cultures and across time, Meredith Lee spends time thinking about them too. This blog features her musings on the topic/subject.

Post #2 Stones and Bones

Meredith Lee was recently asked if she shared Crispin Leads’ passion for reading tombstones.

Placing her glass of iced tea on the table and opening her cellphone, Meredith scrolls through her collection of photographs. There are hundreds of images of her ancestors’ monuments and tombstones from around the world. Granite. Marble. Slate. Some are pristine, others cracked, many of them are so worn it is impossible to read the epitaphs. Meredith recalls that it was her mother’s death that led her to research her ancestry. Like her character, Crispin Leads, Meredith finds comfort and connection in the stories inscribed on tombstones. Unlike Crispin, Meredith discovered the measure of her ancestors in wills and letters. One 2nd great-grandfather promised his children that he would buy a tombstone for his wife’s grave. It took 10 years for the fisherman to save enough money for the stone which is elaborately decorated and inscribed: “In loving memory of my angel.”

Not everyone is keen about Meredith’s passion for uncovering the stories of those who came before. It makes some friends uneasy, they question the wisdom of Meredith spending so much time with the dead. She laughs off the implication that genealogy is a morbid or lonely endeavor. Her research has connected her with history and with the most generous people. Many turned out to be cousins. Many tromp around cemeteries, snapping photographs.

Closing her cellphone, Meredith takes a sip of iced tea, then quotes a scene in Shrouded where Crispin explains her line of study. Crispin says, ‘In a broad sense, I am working on a hypothesis that the ritualizing of burial customs is universal for all of mankind over time, across cultures and across society.’ Meredith explains that when she wrote that, she hadn’t yet found the trail of stories written on her ancestors’ tombstones. She likens her journey to another quote from Shrouded. Crispin tells Roberto, “You are not the first to suggest that I use my research as a path to healing.”

Meredith laughs. She acknowledges that Crispin’s journey is far more thrilling than her own. After all, Crispin witnesses a murder and is drawn into an investigation of multiple homicides.

Find a grave

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