Last week traveling to a family event, I had extra time on my hands so I took the scenic route. On a back road, I stopped for a cold lemonade, then on a whim, pulled into the old country church across the road. I parked and wandered through the cemetery, snapping pictures of interesting headstones, like one that said “date of birth unknown.” Since his mourners didn’t try to estimate, I was left wondering if he’d died at 5, 3o, 50 or 90. Of course, my heart panged when I saw the many infant memorials from earlier times. And I was drawn into the drama and history, such as when one spouse’s birth and death information neatly occupied the left side of the stone but 45 years later, the right side remained blank except for a name: probably, she remarried and was buried elsewhere, leaving her first husband to rest in peace, alone.
But the biggest surprise to me was coming across the gravestone of a former employee, Wendy, who died last year. Wendy was a great part-time counselor who left us amicably about five years ago and I didn’t even know she passed away. It was such an odd coincidence that I would stumble upon her grave during my random visit. It especially hit home since she was a year younger than me (which is to say, very young!). And I was struck that already during my errands that morning, I had seen a former candidate for an HR position and an employee we terminated, so it was kind of an odd day. (I think the HR applicant had a decent candidate experience with me, and the terminated employee, regrettably not so much.)
Some people say there are no coincidences; everything has meaning and things happen for a reason. If that is true, why did I find Wendy’s grave? And on the same day I ran into two other past applicants/employees. What was the message?
The message I was left with had to do with connectedness and karma. Walking through so much history, I had a sense of connection to the past as well as our ancestors’ legacies to us here and now. The sense only magnified when I saw Wendy’s stone and realized how interconnected we all are, constantly, and how our decisions and actions follow us and pop up unexpectedly at any time. I was relieved and happy we’d parted on good terms.
All the more reason to treat people right and try to follow the golden rule, I reflected, so that when ghosts of employees past come to visit, we feel at ease and at peace.
Rather than haunted.