Friday, July 27, 2007


Cemeteries fascinate me; every marker that I see represents an individual, and each of these individuals has a story. Walking through a cemetery, you feel peaceful; all these people have come to the end of their journey and are able to rest. At the same time, you want to mourn, especially at the site of gravestones that mark the bodies of those who were not able to live a full life. Childrens' graves are particularly hard to deal with. Whether from some illness or some accident, they’ve left this world for the next. Looking at these stones, it’s hard to not think about your place in the universe and God in general.
I have seen two amazing cemeteries in Prague. The first was in Vyšehrad, which lies on a hill in New Town overlooking the rest of the city. The cemetery is old, but it continues to be used. Among the gravestones there are statues of angels and monuments to historical figures. Both Mucha and Dvořak were buried here. As the hill is the second biggest hill in Prague, it seemed a beautiful place of rest. Like their souls, the tombstones were reaching towards the heavens.
However, I would much more prefer being buried in the Municipal Cemetery. This graveyard, located in Prague 3 next to, of all things, a gigantic shopping mall, is perhaps the biggest and oldest cemetery I have ever seen. It looks like something out of the movies. Ivy grows over the older stones and the trees that tower over the graves. Each marker is immense, and there are monuments and angels throughout the resting place. At one point, I heard a lone voice singing a simple tune and as I followed, I found myself near the center and discovered a statue of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion; I didn’t mind that I couldn’t find the source of the voice. Somewhere hidden within the cemetery is the grave of Franz Kafka. Although I could not find the stone, I am quite sure I will return. The place was hauntingly empty and beautiful. The sun filtered through the branches to create an almost holy atmosphere. I wanted to cry and laugh and play all in the same moment.
There is also a section of the cemetery for new graves. I saw one gravestone that had the pictures of a man and a woman who had died on the same day. I knew enough Czech to see that they were parents and that their children had lost their parents in some fatal accident. It was a beautiful grave and quite touching.
It made me wonder how I would want to be buried when I pass away. Although my thoughts were a bit morbid, they were appropriate at the time. What I really want is for people to look at my grave and smile. If there are tears, I would hope that they were tears of happiness, remembering all the great times we’ve shared here on earth.

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