Columns | Vienna Review | November 2010

Many people are afraid of graveyards – which I have never understood. As long as I can remember, the first of November was the day my grandmother would make me wear my new coat, the one that she had carefully sewn herself, my warm gloves and that woolen hat that swallowed up my small head. ("Damit dir nicht kalt wird," so that you are not freezing).

And with that, my entire family left for the Allerheiligenmesse at our local graveyard, to pay our tribune to the beloved ones that had "left us too early."

The low-hanging fog, colored-leaves gently falling past our heads, people clinging to their tissues and an almost overly-crowded last home is what I think of on this day of the year. The local band would intone a funeral march, while red votive candles were lit, to protect our late ancestors during the upcoming day and night.

Today is different. I could not take part as other obligations intervened. Right now, my family is probably standing at the back of the graveyard, my mother placing one red rose on the tombstone for my grandfather who passed away three years ago. They will all join afterwards, as every year, to have some Striezel and tea at home, waiting for twilight to come, only to return to the graveyard that is welcoming them with a sea of shimmering red and orange light originating from the tiny flames of the candles, creating this incredible warmth, as if our loved ones where among us for one last night.

Sarah Rabl

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