I've had a weird thing about cemeteries as long as I can remember. As a child, I was fond of objectively creepy things; spiders, snakes, mystery novels. Add in teenage angst and a few emo bands that wrote about death and mausoleums and I was a lost cause for all things sunshiny.
When I was younger, I have a memory of going to a graveyard with my mom. She brought charcoal (or maybe dark, thick pencils...I can't remember), and paper. We would find headstones that had indistinguishable text from old age and the wear and tear of the weather. She showed me how to place the paper on the face of the stone and rub the charcoal in such a way that if I was careful, I could reveal the hidden names and epithets underneath. It was magical, in a way...a secret power.
Now I am fortunate to live a few blocks from the largest cemetery in Chicago proper, Rosehill Cemetery. It is 350 acres large and houses over 100,000 graves. That's a lot of dead people, considering some of those must include mausoleums and family plots. The primary mausoleum, which looks a lot more like a museum than a crypt from the outside, contains the bodies of some of Chicago's most successful and wealthy dead: The Montgomery-Wards, the Shedds, and the Sears families.
John and I go walking there at least once a week, sometimes more. We know some of the places where famous people are laid to rest, and sometimes we discover new spots. I like to walk by the Schwinn plot and send silent thanks for my bike from time to time.
The tremendous irony of my love of cemeteries is my crippling fear of death. I don't know where it comes from. Maybe one hospital stay or painful accident too many (I wrote on this for my Skiing and Skating post). Maybe, also, it's because I have just begun consistently loving life a few years ago. Shout out to John. Whenever I think about dying, my chest clenches and my stomach churns and I break into a sweat. My mind races, and I go into hypochondriac mode, wondering if I have any new health issues that will usher me towards the light more quickly than I'd planned. It's no fun.
So, with any fear, I suppose it's a process of staring it in the face or sitting with it quietly until it's just another thing in the room, rather than some enemy or assailant. I think that's why I'm subconsciously attracted to cemeteries. That, and their natural beauty, especially in my otherwise urban neighborhood. Rosehill Cemetery has tons of trees and flower beds. It's actually quite peaceful.
I'm off to my next task. Living doesn't leave me much free time, but I'm enjoying it any way.
Until tomorrow, stay safe, stay well, and stay kind.