While visiting my daughter back in mid-March, she and I were taking a walk in a municipal cemetery. The cemetery is an older one, in a not-so-good neighborhood and in not-so-great shape.
But we were having a wonderful time, wandering, reading, taking the occasional picture.
I was aware of the sounds of children playing nearby with considerable exuberance and when I looked up, I saw that one edge of the cemetery abutted what appeared to be a playground. I’m not sure if it was part of a school property; I didn’t investigate.
At any rate, only a waist-high brick retaining wall or fence of sorts separated the playground from the cemetery. Everybody over in the cemetery could clearly see everybody in the play yard.
A number of children were whooping and hollering and I realized one of them was addressing me as I moved about, training my camera on this gravestone and that.
“HEY,” she yelled. “You’re gonna die!”
I stopped and looked over there but I couldn’t tell who’d said it. Just that it was a girl.
“Okay,” I replied, just loudly enough for her to hear.
I mean, it’s not like this was news.
I went on with my business and that’s just about the time my daughter got my attention. She was five or six graves over, pointing to something.
I walked over and it turned out to be this stuffed dog that had clearly been on the grave for a while. Its nose was rotting away.
Beside it was what used to be a stuffed bunny, its ears now permanently laid back and its plastic eyes dull from prolonged exposure to the elements.
I leaned in for several shots of the toys and that’s when I heard the girl on the playground hollering at me again. I looked over but there were half a dozen kids and I still couldn’t be sure who was talking.
“You’re gonna DIE,” she repeated.
I began walking in that direction, determined to isolate the speaker and ask her what her deal was. Maybe even take a picture of her.
But I never even saw the kid because apparently she ran away when I started over there. An older girl remained.
“She’s sorry,” the older girl said.
“What?” I said.
“She said she’s sorry.”
I kept walking toward the waist-high brick wall. It was starting to rain.
“You tell her I said I know I’m going to die, and so is she,” I instructed.
“Okay. Sorry,” said her friend.
“Nothing to be sorry for,” I said.
And there isn’t. We’re both right.
No longer so nosy
Photographed by Jennifer Weber at City Cemetery on March 12, 2012