You may dance on our grave

September 12, 2012 |  by  |  Live life fully  |  , , ,


You’re looking at a sunrise scene from one of my favorite places in town: the city cemetery. A haven for deep thoughts on quiet strolls and a runner’s delight with its crisscrossed roads, the graveyard holds the memories of thousands of lives.

They found rest there. I find them inspiring.

On frequent walks with my husband, I ponder the lives represented on stone in simple letters and numbers. It’s often a sacred experience to wander those trails of legacy.

Without fail, I see something new on every visit. Established in 1851, the cemetery holds headstones bearing birth dates from the late 18th century. I see gems like candidates for my “possible future kid names” mental list – including winners like Zadie. I soak in the flowers, balloons, and notes left by loved ones to honor their kindred, a.k.a. the regularly renewed “Sexy Mama” sign. I also notice stories told in numbers that tug at my heart – like the twins who both died in their first six months.

Recently I saw a tender inscription from a couple born in the 1930s that stopped me in tracks:

We don’t know but we’ve been told, when you keep on dancing, you never grow old. You may dance on our grave.


In their honor, I danced a little jig.

The front of the grave boasts a carving of a young dancing couple, and the missing death date indicates the wife remains with us. She must be one spunky lady.

As the great Shakespeare wrote, “All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity.” Doesn’t it ring true that writers hope to ensure their own immortality in their words? I know I do. The cemetery reminds me I’m in a race against death. NOW is the time live my life fully. Go after my dreams. Build a legacy.

When I die, I want my grave to do the talking for me, shouting to the world I really lived. Helen Keller’s quote is on my potential headstone list: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

No getting creeped out by the following question (pinky swear?)… If you could choose today, how would you sum up your life on your grave?


  1. Kudos Crystalee! This post captivated my mind! I wanted to keep reading! I could feel your words and thoroughly enjoyed the read! Thank you for such a wonderful insight!


  2. I like Spike Milligan’s epitaph: “I told you I was ill,” or Winston Churchill’s, “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.’

    I, however, would have to go for, “Don’t look so grave.”

  3. How timely to post this – I drove my mom by this cemetery while she was in town this weekend because it is such a cool place. She was oohing and ahhing over it.

    Not sure what I want my epitaph to read, I have lots of ideas but none that really feel like they truly suit me. What do you want yours to say Crystalee?

    • You were right to share it as part of the Ogden tour – it’s one of the city’s gems. I shared the Helen Keller quote above that I like, but I’d really have to think more about it and make a comprehensive list. I’ll have to do that in a few decades 🙂 Spending so many hours there has made me determined to make sure my grave reflects my life. Thanks for your comment, Julie!

  4. I love the words to a Captain and Tenille song: “Can’t stop dancin’ just because the music stops, ’cause if you keep on dancin’ they’re gonna turn the music back on.” For years I have contemplated having this on my headstone.

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