Memento Mori

24 10 2007

Yesterday was the memorial service for Ralph Abdo. I had some time at home before I had to put on my suit, and I took the time to grab my camera and walk to the cemetery at the end of our street. I’ve always wanted to take pictures there, and the combination of an unseasonably sunny October day, the splendid Fall foliage, and my general melancholy mood meant I couldn’t resist. I spent about an hour walking around taking pictures in a memento mori frame of mind.

Otherworldly

I like this picture the best of the set. My original conception didn’t work out at all — I wanted a dramatic backlit scene, but too much was washed out. But I liked the elements of the picture too much to give up on it, and by playing with different black & white renderings I hit on this otherworldly vision. It perfectly captures how I felt yesterday.

I like the next two pictures because they contain all of the conflicting thoughts in my brain. On the one hand, everything yesterday was so beautiful. How could you not celebrate that? Yet all around are the reminders of death and sadness… and when you stop and think about yesterday’s beauty, what you’re seeing is the color of decay and fading and the onset of winter. But it’s still beautiful.

Fall Colors II

Fall Colors

Cavalry cemetery is an old graveyard. One of the things I valued most my about my walk through it is the perspective I got from visiting families that lived and died over a hundred years ago.

Sad Rose

This marker was from a family who had several children who died young — some a few months, some just a couple of years old. It’s a reminder that we live in an unusual era. In entire span of human history, it’s only been in the last hundred years that living a long, full life is the norm… so much so that we take life for granted and death comes as a surprise. But we’re as mortal now as we were a hundred years ago.

Everyone said this at yesterday’s memorial service: Ralph knew how to live life to its fullest. He was always laughing, always had a story, was always planning his next skydiving or windsurfing adventure. He clearly didn’t need a walk through a graveyard to remind himself that his time on Earth was limited, or that life was precious.

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