Last night Melissa and I went to Prishtina for dinner and a night out for Melissa’s birthday. After dinner we headed to a favoriate spot for dessert and on our way decided we would try to find President Rugova’s grave. We had all seen it on TV; one news article said that a million people came to Prishtina last week to pay their respects. That’s amazing considering that Kosova only has about 2.5 million inhabitants.
We’d all heard contraditory information about the location of the cemetary, but at last heard that it was near his house in a park we had passed by daily when we lived in Prishtina. We found the location easily enough, brightly lit by tall towers, a newly lit walkway flanked by 61 newly planted trees to commemorate his life. At the grave site were two dark-coated men and a police car to watch over the location. Ringing the graveside were scores of flower wreaths from various places and people. One was from the German branch of Rugova’s political party. Others were from various nations. The State of Isreal, the Chech Republic, Poland and others. Situated prominantly, directly behind the grave, was the wreath from the Government of the United States of America.
I was drawn to it, filled perhaps with childhood fantasies about the Government of the United States of America. I say fantasies because nothing is ever as good as it appears on TV. I expected our government to provide a beautiful wreath, perhaps better than the others…larger or more beautiful in some way. In reality, there were wreaths that were bigger, and more beautiful. The banner that held the label had already begun to come apart, barely two days after the funeral. It was not what I expected,cheap red ribbon drooping lazily over the large black word, “America.”
And so I was once again touched by the reaily of Rugova’s death. Death appears so final from this side of eternity. And few of those one million mourners will ever have any hope for something beyond the grave. For them, it is the end.