At the Cemetery

Today I wanted to visit the loveliest cemetery in Ghent.  Dirk suggested Westerbegraafplats.  And here I am.

It’s only the song birds, the mourning doves and me.  And all the souls who have been laid to rest.  In front of me are rows of low monuments and off in the distance huge chestnut trees with their white blossoms.

The trees are immense here.  For some it would take three of us with arms outstretched to fill the circumference.  And the quiet hangs above.

I came for the people who have gone on.  In Canada I loved reading the personal messages carved into stone but in Belgium those messages are in Flemish.  A language of my future.

What I did see were photos of the dearly departed – hundreds of them.  I wanted to know these people.  Almost all of the pictures felt like this:

I know that tradition in the long ago was not to smile, but it still makes me sad to see these faces.  “Who are you, really?”   So expressionless … so (if you will) “half-dead”.

Here are four more faces.  The two in the middle make me smile a bit.  “Here’s the spark I’m looking for.”  I can tell they had a lot of good times, and that their family loved them dearly.

Ready for two more?  Here you go:

Can’t you just seeing them reaching over that cross for a sweet hug, one that lingers?  I can.  I bet they had twelve grandkids, and that grandma and grandpa spoiled them something awful!

Another search in my mind was finding a photo of the couple together, hopefully arms around each other, their eyes shining.  And there was success:

It’s a place where lives still live

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