The sun shone brightly as the thousands of mourners followed each other. They swarmed the cemetery and the paths leading to, through and within was choked with feet unwilling and unable to move forward. Wailing. Thousands of crying men, women and children. Some in silence, only their shoulders heaving uncontrollably. Others cried loud, openly and unashamedly. The pain was palatable, the sorrow immeasurable.

Side by side they lay. Five angels called up to Heaven were being laid to rest. Cut down by beasts in human form. The speakers took to the podium to speak of the tragedy, of the sacrifice demanded. They bemoaned the lost beauty and the innocence. They cried for the young mother and unborn child and they let the tears stream down for the four tiny bodies laid out by her side.

A young mother and four babies (and an unborn fifth) sacrificed to the insatiable blood thirst of Islam’s Allah.  They spoke (don’t they always?) with anger, sadness and a determination to continue. The multitude nodded in agreement, shifted from side to side, wiped the tears. Eyes shifted upward toward the heavens, seeking answers, beseeching and pleading.

Wailing uncontrollably, the broken father and husband stood over the five graves about to swallow into its blackness, forever, his most precious treasures. The mind refused to comprehend, the heart refused to accept it. He stood there, inconsolable, broken, shattered, begging for forgiveness for not spending enough time with them, for not being there at the most crucial moment of their short lives. Then, supported by many, he walked away ever so slowly. Alone. Truly alone. He looked back just one more time.

They stood there for a while. Numb, hurting. Then, slowly, they began to disperse, each returning to his or her daily routine. Slowly they walked out of the cemetery and down the road home. Home, wherever it was. Home, to hug their children, their loved ones, one more time. Longer today, perhaps, than many previous times.

And I stood there in the shadows, waiting for the last mourner to depart. The sun began setting and twilight spread its wings across the skies as the last one, a young mother holding an infant child, disappeared down the path out of this field of eternal life.

Not very far, there, I could see the five fresh mounds. I stood still and gazed around. So many tombstones. Silent witnesses, welcoming, sadly, the new arrivals. Silent sentries in the world of eternal peace and tranquillity.

Slowly I walked, as if not to disturb their eternal sleep, barely noticing the elongated shadows of the approaching night. Then I stopped in my tracks and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. 

The tombstones. I swear I saw them cry…


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Isaac Kohn is senior vice president for Prime Care Consultants.