human, being

February 20, 2009, 7:39 pm
Filed under: photography | Tags: , , , , ,

angel1Monday was a beautiful day in Denver, and a day off for me. With no plans, I followed my curiosity, and it led me and my camera to Fairmount Cemetery. Fairmount was founded in 1890 and is Colorado’s second-oldest cemetery. I’ve strolled through the old graves many times in my life, on school field trips, once during high school at night. I’ve been drawn to graveyards since I was a child. There is something fascinating to me not about all the bodies buried beneath my feet, but the sheer number of lives represented by names and dates carved into stone. All of these people had toothaches, and dreams about being naked, and loved something or someone, just like me. I love other people’s stories, so much so that I love to make them up. I also love the attention that we humans used to give in creating last tributes to people we loved. I especially love the many angels that watch over the Fairmount grounds, and the lambs keeping children’s stones warm. Today, most people’s bodies are cremated, and at most there is a flat piece of granite inlaid in the grass. Death is simpler as it’s become rarer.

margaretMonday’s light was hard and shining from straight overhead as I parked my car. I grabbed my Nikon and my prime lens (my favorite) and headed in. Many of the graves I saw were from people who died more than 100 years ago. Sometimes, testaments rose up with many names carved into the stone. Some people lived to be 70 or 80. One gentleman lived to be 103. But most died in their 30s and 40s. Many family plots contained graves of multiple children. Until recently, death was commonplace in people’s lives. Now, I feel shocked when someone I know dies. I’ve never been afraid of death, and my personal philosophy about what happens when we die allows me to get through the grieving process without much agony.

angel-21As I walked, I began reading the names on the headstones out loud. How many years had it been since someone visited a headstone placed in 1897? How many years had it been since anyone said the name of that spirit, who made a transition so long ago? I felt good honoring them, one by one, as I took pictures of monuments that moved me.

After a while, I came to a spot where I felt compelled to sit and just breathe for a while. A small flock of geese ambled through the headstones, softly honking and looking for shoots of green grass among the winter kill. The sun cast hard shadows toward me, lengthening the trunks and branches of trees on the ground. I snapped a three photos, moving my focus from the shadows, to the geese, to a distant gravestone. When I clicked the shutter the third time, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Out of the corner of my eye, slightly over my right shoulder, I saw a man standing behind a headstone, watching me. He was about six feet tall, had dark wavy hair that pushed back from his forehead and curled behind his ears. He wore a dark blue button-down shirt and jeans–the shirt had a white pattern on it. He stood with his hands in his pockets. I captured all of this information in the spit second it took me to register his presence, and by the time I turned my head, he was gone. Yes, I saw a ghost.

carlson-1I told Steve about my brief encounter when I got home. I’ve always been sensitive to energy from “stuck” entities, even as a kid. (Yes, feel free to roll your eyes and laugh at me. You might think it’s bunk, but I know it’s not.) He believed my story. I didn’t think about it again until I downloaded the photos today. When I opened that last picture, I realized my camera was perfectly focused on the distant gravestone: Carlson. The hairs on my neck stood on end again, as I sat on my couch. Mr. Carlson is the man who visited me; I can feel it in my gut.

Someday, I’ll take Lauren to Fairmount. We pass it every day on the way to school, and she’s often asked me if we can go there. She’s such a sensitive little girl. I wonder what her first experience will be like. Will she cry? Or will she be fascinated like me about the many lives that have come before her?


1 Comment so far
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I believe you…. you might be blessed with a certain degree of sixth sense/ extra-sensory perception (ESP).

Love the pictures, the cemetery looks so peaceful

Comment by Lois

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