The New River flows north into the Potomac. The New is said to be one of the oldest rivers in North America. (I am not sure what this means—does flowing water have an age?) The entire river valley is designated a “national river”and belongs to the National Park Service. Reading about the New River Gorge, with its scenic bridge and waterfalls, was very seductive, and, though neither of us had heard of this place before, I thought that visiting it on our way to White Sulphur Springs would be worthwhile.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to see the main attractions of national park on a short timeline. The local roads in this part of West Virginia are poor and, though one of the most spectacular waterfalls was but a short distance from the interstate, we found on talking with the rangers at the visitors’ center that reaching it would take a 40-minute drive. Mr. C and I had early dinner reservations ahead at our destination and were running out of time. So instead we hiked up a steep hill to get a general view of the area, which entailed visiting a small hilltop cemetery.
Most of the graves there were old and bore the names of a just few proud families. In one corner of the cemetery was a fresher grave, holding the remains of a man in his 20s, who died on November 6, 2017. The grief of loss asserted itself with patriotism and pride.
On this day, All Souls Day, I find myself thinking of Josh’s parents and their anguish, so openly and urgently expressed along with their love–their hurt poured out in one secluded corner of this beautiful place.