“I suppose the monuments and stones give some measure of comfort to those who are left behind,” said my husband Teddy as we walked along the pathways and trees under which the monuments and stones stood as silent reminders of those buried beneath them.
It was July 5th, our daughter Clara’s 16th birthday. She and her friends wanted to explore the Old City Cemetery. It was founded in 1849, the year of the California Gold Rush. The population of those interned grew by over 600 in 1850 due to a cholera epidemic. Wars and illness, childbirth and accidents added to it over the years, along with old age. Not that many in old age as so many are so young.
The famous are there as well as those less known. All are remembered in some way today even if it only a stone that can be admired by strangers in our strange modern world.
Teddy wandered over to where a few of his siblings rested their bones. There are many there we were acquainted with at one time.
One learns to thinks of happy memories. Well sometimes. Today I wondered if a dear friend had died in an accident long ago or by his own hand. I wondered if another would be alive today with modern medicine. And there are those times when I wonder if only we had changed a long-lost friend to be one of us, a Vampire, who is considered dead by those who don’t understand.
Teddy called my daughter and her three friends over to a small marker in the sun among many military markers there. There were flowers on it, no doubt from a sister or old friend. My heart broke. He was nineteen years old. He died on June 6, 1944 in Normandy. D-Day. Only minutes before I’d mentioned how horrible and tragic war was and how insane it was that humans would waste so many young lives. I didn’t take a picture of the stone or remember the name. I just thought of a man who would now be in his 80’s. I thought of a man who might have had a life with a woman who loved him and surrounded by grandchildren. A man who would have gone to college with the GI bill and found the cure to cancer, or won an Oscar, or been a High School teacher.
There is a beauty to the grave markers. Lambs show us where small children sleep forever. Flowers carved in stone bloom in the cold winter nights. Books are piled for a young lawyer who will now have an eternity to read and ponder the universe. Monuments are inscribed with messages of love, loss and accomplishments.
I watched the four teens we were with talking and exploring. And odd way to spend a Sweet Sixteen. Or at least the beginning of the day. Thank goodness for a cool breeze.
A few ghosts stood under the trees watching us with soulful black eyes. We stayed away and left them alone to their own kind. Most of us can only see the ghosts that haunt our own hearts, the ghosts we allow into our lives and memories.
I’ve shared photos of this place before (CLICK HERE to see them) but this time I spent more time just walking with my husband among the flowers and stones, and quiet statues.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman