Tag Archives: dead people

Day of the dead

Oddly, one of my favorite things about this little piece of the county is the Olive Hill Cemetery, just outside of Geyserville. Next to (what else?) a vineyard, it’s a pretty neat place to learn a bit more about the history of the area, as the oldest and most prominent monuments are for the long-time Italian-Swiss colony families. I went to preschool or elementary school or ballet class with kids who had some of these same names, and their many-generations-removed ancestors are buried on Olive Hill.

The hill is full of ancient oak trees, and when it rains, the moss and lichen growing all over everything adds to the spooky atmosphere. If I had were filming a low-budget horror movie, I know exactly where I’d choose to set up my camera.


Walking through a cemetery, for me, is mostly a reminder of how nothing ever stays the same. Entropy, if nothing else, breaks everything down into component parts, and even marble and granite can be eaten by lichen and crumbled to dust. The oldest graves we saw dated back to the 1870s, and a few that might have been older were no longer readable, their markers worn by rain and earthquakes and sun and dirt and squirrel poop and time.

It’s interesting to walk through a cemetery and see how the fashions and styles of even something like a grave marker can change through the decades. I saw monuments made of stone, flat markers made of metal, family tombs and individualized sites, with benches, wind chimes, and other personal elements. Also, different cultural symbols. And a kitty.

Finally, there’s nothing like finding the headstone of someone one’s own age to make one feel mortal. This was the saddest marker in the whole graveyard. “Beloved grandson” was 5 weeks old. “Beloved son” was younger than me, and died only a few months after his newborn son.

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Morbid

A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks that I’ve hesitated to write about until I had my head wrapped around exactly what it was I felt. Aside from the usual sturm-und-drang and minutial drama, some serious events have happened in the lives of people close (and not so close) to me, which has put me in a contemplative mood.

To sum up:

The younger brother of one of my high school classmates drowned in a lake.

A FOAF who I’d met a few times at various gatherings (including the wedding I did flowers for; he was best friends with my friend Julie’s friend Len and was all wrapped up in that circle of friends) committed suicide last weekend.

Despite what the topic of my college honor’s thesis might have you think, I’ve never been one to ruminate much on death. I’d prefer to think about just about anything else, actually. And I’ve been lucky in my life, because only one person I was in any way close to has died (my grandpa, when I was 15, and I was hardly at all close to him). People I’ve known have died, but none of them were people I was ever all that invested in. Three of my high school classmates died in the first 5 years after we graduated (one previously-unknown heart condition, one car accident, one gang shooting) but I didn’t know any of them very well. The saddest deaths in my life have been those of childhood pets.

But just because I’m not personally sad for the recent deaths of people I knew doesn’t mean I’m not sad for my friends who are affected by those deaths. The first death was an accident. He was a young guy and it’s sad when a young life is cut short, but it really doesn’t have much of an effect on my life. And quite frankly, more than anything I’m really angry about the second guy. I’m angry for a lot of reasons.

First of all, this guy was really nice. I met him at several parties and events over the years, and really only had a chance to talk to him at the wedding last month. He was very friendly and we had a great conversation, and I’ve since learned that most people who knew him thought he was just a great guy, unassuming and easy to talk to. He had a lot of friends and family who cared deeply for him. He never told anyone that he was contemplating suicide, so it was shocking to Julie and his other friends (to say the least) when they heard the news. Apparently he had his suicide note delivered to his sister’s house via couriered mail while the authorities were there to inform her of his death. She couldn’t believe he would have done such a thing, but there it was, in writing.

As nice as he was in life, this guy hurt a lot of people with his death. Several people I care about are deeply upset by his suicide, particularly because he is the second in this circle to commit such an act in the last two years. The first death affected everyone very strongly, and his just made it worse. Now obviously I haven’t read his note and I didn’t really know him, but he knew he had family and friends who loved him that would be devastated by his act and he did it anyway. In my opinion, suicide is a huge Fuck You to the world. This particular person’s suicide was a big Fuck You to a whole lot of people I know. It hurts me to know that my friends hurt and grieve, and it hurts me to know that someone can feel so badly about his life, however good it may have seemed on the surface, that shooting himself in the head seems like his best option.

Since these deaths, I’ve been on a bit of a murder-mystery book kick. I don’t know whether it’s an escape into brain candy or a way to lessen the blow by reading about things even more scary and gruesome. Maybe a little of both. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how a person gets to the point where offing him/herself is a better idea than continuing to live. Anyone out there who can explain it to me?

Deaths, weddings, births, and ploofs – four life milestones

Things that are on my mind recently:

How I am far more bothered by people dying relatively young in accidents (Natasha Richardson, of course) than by people dying of old age or dying of diseases. Accidents are unpredicatable and scary, but there’s not much you can do to prevent them. I do my best to prevent illness and disease, but short of encasing myself in a bubble for the rest of my life and never being able to experience the world again, I’m just going to have to chance it. I’m really sorry for her family, though.

How even people who consider themselves to be nonconformist and easy-going can get all worked up about wedding planning, especially when looking at other people’s wedding porn (tm Ariel of Offbeat Bride). I confess to being this way myself to a small degree, but knowing the constraints of time, budget, and space, I never let myself get too worked up over stuff other people were doing for their different and/or unusual weddings. Ours, quite frankly, ended up being far more traditional than I expected but there were enough quirky touches to make it our own, I think. I remember posting on Hillary’s blog while she was still working out the last kinks of wedding planning, trying to reassure her that honestly, nobody will notice if the flowers aren’t exactly what you were hoping for. And you won’t notice, either. It’s hard to look back and think that reassurance from anyone who’s already gone through the whole wedding rigamarole would have helped matters for me, because you don’t really know until it’s all over. I hope my comment way back then helped Hillary, and I hope that in the hypothetical future when I am hypothetically doing things for weddings, I’m able to impart a bit of serenity.

That I know a whole lot of people who are currently in the last stages of gestation and will be giving birth soon. (JT, holla!) Am currently working on yet another blanket for an April arrival, and will probably do a hat and booties or something for a friend due in May because I just don’t think I’ll want to be doing blanket knitting once it really warms up.

That we just went through the warmest, dry-est winter I can remember since I moved to Denver. We’ve hardly had any snow at all and it’s been mostly in the 50s and 60s for all of February and March. What the hell, Colorado? Where’s all my snow? I only got to see ploofs ONE TIME this year. ONE TIME ploofspotting is not enough for my necessary ploof quotient. WHERE ARE MY PLOOFS? (I do realize that having written this, the universe will hear my hue and cry and we’ll get another March blizzard that dumps 2 feet of snow downtown or something.)

And tonight, we’re having an out-of-town friend over for dinner who we haven’t seen since New Year’s Eve of – 01 to 02 I think? Should be fun!