The National Cemetary downtown has graves stretching in every direction.
And instead of a harrowing fear of ghosts and ghouls, you experience the beauty of a botanical garden and an array of sculptures, all bringing life to a city of headstones and tombs.
As we strolled the brick walkway in the chillled morning, I explained to my oldest son what it’s all for, how we remember each other by the place where some of us are laid to rest.
It’s a history lesson. It’s years and years carved into stone, memories that we’ll never intimately know, but that we can imagine in the broadness of daylight.
We looked into the iron doors of tombs, families placed under one roof in death, like they’d once been in life.
And we didn’t think any harder than we needed to. We didn’t expound on the implications of death in our society, the taboos and horror stories related to haunted graveyards and creepy resting places.
We just walked in the sunlight and examined stillness. We just watched bees gather and butterflies sip from the freshly bloomed yellows.
We ate our grapes and pretzels in the shade of a tree, we watched the pooling water of a table-turned-birdbath, and we put our fingers in the brown dirt while a Mister and Misses Someone rested far beneath us, under those same trees.
There is death somewhere in all of us. There’s a dying, a grieving and burial of something from ages past. But there’s more life in us, more breathing and pulsing and exchanging moment and moments of community every single day.
Even in the tombstoned town where we walked, life walked with us.