Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Contemplating Mortality

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for thou art not so,

For, those, whom though think’st, thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me …

One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

~ John Donne

I’m not sure why I love cemeteries as much as I do. Though it might seem morbid to many, I am drawn to them wherever I go. They are peaceful places, and I admit I find them terribly romantic. The more old and spooky looking, the better. Perhaps it is the idea that each grave has a story that appeals to the story collector in me. Whatever it is, I always wind up exploring them (and I suppose I’ll eventually get a good long visit, but that’s about a hundred years away).

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have already discovered several graveyards in Merritt or just beyond. The actual City Cemetery I found when I was running, and have since returned several times. It is a bit odd actually. On one side is the older section, which is rather gloomy looking — it is all gravel and the gravestones look a bit like they’re crumbling. This is juxtaposed with the new section, which is as perfectly manicured as a golf course. It’s nice that the City obviously takes good care of it and people evidently visit frequently (there are always flowers and other offerings), but I naturally spend more time in the older side, which has more character.

Just this Sunday I took a drive out of town and explored the old Murray churchyard. So far it’s my favourite cemetery nearby, though there are a few native cemeteries that I would like to visit. This one had a cute little old church (which unfortunately was locked or I would have explored further) and an assortment of old graves from the late 1800’s. One that caught my eye was the grave of Reverend W. B. Cuyler who died April 7, 1887. He was 28 years and 3 months. So young. I wonder how he died. The headstone also said he was a native of Bruce, Ontario. I’m sure it’s a sad story. I might just visit the museum and ask them if they know anything about him.

While we’re on the subject, I might as well tell you that it is my dream to one day have a house next to a cemetery. All my superstitious Tongan friends are probably horrified ­– actually most of you are probably shaking your heads, but there you have it. Towards the end of summer driving through the city of Fort Langley I saw my house. It was a beautiful old heritage home and next to it was a beautiful old cemetery. And it was for sale. When I saw that sign I gasped. Unfortunately I drove by that house too early in life, as I am still poor as a church mouse. Maybe it will wait for me. But until then, as luck would have it, I have moved into a tiny, not so beautiful apartment directly across the street from a little old funeral chapel. So I suppose it’s a step in the right direction. Each day I can look out the window and contemplate mortality.

The view from my living room window.

Another grave in the Murray churchyard.


Becca Bingham said...

I loved reading this because I too LOVE cemetaries! Whenever we are on road trips I love to check out the small town cemetaries and always point them out as we drive. They are so peaceful and inviting. I don't think you're strange for wanting to live by one because I agree. I finally found someone that doesn't think I am crazy when I think this way!

Gretchen Alice said...

Amen. I love graveyards--so rich and full of history. My parents would always take us to them when we were kids so we could look for our ancestors. Have you read Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book? It's excellent.

DianeSS said...

Oh, Jade, I am still laughing as I write this. Yes, I suppose a view of the funeral home is a step in the right direction but there is nothing romantic about a funeral home. Keep deaming though...maybe you'll yet call that Langley house "home"!

Eleanor said...

I also love cemeteries!!! And I love the John Donne poem. Have you ever seen "Wit" with Emma Thompson? I think it might be up your alley. And I am sorry that you passed by your house while still in the throes of church-miced poorness.