22 July 2009

I'm not afraid of death...

...It's the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life.
~Jean Giraudoux, Amphitryon, 1929

Weaving in and out of gravestones first thing in the morning puts one to thinking.

About one's immortality, sure...but for me, other thoughts as well. Planting myself outside of a local and very historic Masonic Cemetery...peering through the chain link fence, remembering a time when one could freely walk through the stones...

Why must we cage our dead?

Is it from vandals or partiers?

People who are disrespectful of a final resting ground.

It struck me as odd while standing at the gate that kept me too far away from these headstones, that I so badly wanted to get in to a cemetery on a beautiful summer day...

To be totally fair, there are some amazing cemeteries in our little corner of Arizona host to some beautiful and historic grave markers. Cemeteries can be beautifully serene places, if not a little lonely...and I did find myself apologizing in case I was rudely walking over someones grave...as if by this simple act I would disturb them. I marveled at how immediately my mind jumped to various superstitions and the mysterious that surrounds death in this culture I find myself in.

I usually keep myself separate from things such as this.

I was worried I didn't know the correct protocol for walking among the dead.

I found that I didn't want to offend anyone, and I was the only one living amongst them.

I also wonder,
as I always have...why do we bury our dead? I think it is for the living left behind, as a reminder of a life once lived...and something to mark that life. But, as I wove in and out of these stones, I felt a heavy sadness for those that are neglected...the one's without the flowers or decorations. (Don't worry, I've always felt this way when visiting cemeteries, since I was a small child. I also feel guilty for not having brought something to leave at a grave...even if I am not connected to those who are buried...I also feel this way when I don't bring duck food to the lake.) I wonder too, about the people who are lying there.

Who were they?
What did they do in their lives?
Where have their people gone to?
Why aren't they putting flowers on the graves of their ancestors any more?

It would seem at points in the scribing of pertinent names and dates, there was an era (if you will, or fad?) when it was important to mention where the person was born and where they died (some of these towns no longer called that in our area) along with the dates of their lives. Living in such a historic town gives one some pretty heady dates and locations of origin (Lot's of people moving west at one point, you know)

I find myself wanting a little booklet with pictures and a story about the persons buried here...these short words and dates are not enough for my curious mind.


Anonymous said...

Cemeteries fascinate me. So much history packed in small spaces. When I read a headstone, I try to imagine the person and think about what their life story was.

Some are peaceful; places, some are spooky. Up here in New England, the stones and cemeteries are old. There's one down the street from 1639. That's a long time ago.

Trying to muster up the courage to pay a visit....

Kathy said...

Sadira - your pictures and words are so sweet. It's a great way to respect those who came before us.

In my youth when we would go on family vacations we would visit cemetaries even if we didn't have ancestors buried there. I would always find it very fascinating with a touch a creepiness.

velvet brick said...

I find this so interesting because I, too, am curious about cemetaries. When I go to visit my family's places, I walk carefull from my car over the lawn of those buried ... being mindful not to 'step on them'... there is, I feel, peaceful reverance, when at a cemetary. When I visit Mom, I often read the markers around her...calculating the ages of those who have died, looking at the tokens of love and 'missing' left on each site. Windchimes hung in the pine tree....whirllygigs stuck in the ground, stuffed animals left for an imagine hug of comfort. There are so many stories held in a cemetary.


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