Living with the Dead
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Living with the Dead

On an afternoon in Père Lachaise cemetery.

14
Living with the Dead
Till Krech

"Well, it looks like this isn't going to happen today," I grumbled behind the stiff color of my winter coat.

The line for admission into the catacombs of Paris snaked nearly a block long around a fenced-in park. For fifteen minutes, my dad and I patiently waited, exchanging empty conversation and watching our frozen breath fade into the gray sky above us. With no forward progress in sight, we bailed. The bones beneath our feet would have to wait for another day.

"You know," I said as we walked to a train station across the street, "we could keep this theme going and visit Père Lachaise cemetery if you wanted."

"Wouldn't you want to go when it's a little nicer out?" he asked.

"Are you kidding? This is the best weather to visit a cemetery. Perfectly dreary!"

He shrugged his shoulders and withdrew his phone from the pocket of his black wool coat.

"Alright," he said, "I'll figure out how to get us there."

One agonizingly slow train ride later, we stepped into a café outside the cemetery walls for a late lunch. The entire meal was laughably cliché; cheap glasses of vin blanc du maison, an elderly plump waiter who delighted in regaling us with the few English words in his possession, and rain quietly falling outside. We spoke of the dead, most of them writers and artists, we wished to visit between bites of chèvre en croûte and tarte au fromage.

After the last drops of sugary espresso were downed and the check was paid, we passed through Père Lachaise's iron gates in search of our first target; the grave of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire.

I eventually discovered that what remained of one of my favorite poets was his name carved into a rough stone pillar and a final poem on a slab at our feet. Several bouquets of dying flowers served as vestiges of previous tributes.

"Let's keep moving," I said after several minutes of contemplation.

Somewhere between stops on our bizarre pilgrimage, the reality of our curiosity snuck up on us.

"Life is weird," my dad said suddenly as we emerged from a forest of gravestones and mausoleums onto one of the cemetery's main thoroughfares.

"Calm down there, philosopher," I said with a laugh.

"Well, it's true," he retorted, "We spend all this time building monuments to those we've lost, but what happens when that last person who cares about them dies? All of this is for naught."

For every well-tended tomb were several others choked with moss, riddled with cracks, and adorned with text too faded to read. Even the thousands of visible names we passed meant little to me. How could I know them by only the stony monuments that remained?

I wondered if my acknowledgement, a single glance, a fleeting thought, was enough.

After we completed our list, my dad and I trudged in the direction of the nearest gate, eager to return to the city of the living. A particularly over-decorated grave caught my eye on our way out. She had been young.

"Oh..." my dad murmured as he paused in front of it.

What?" I asked.

"She was a victim of the 2015 terrorist attacks," he explained.

I looked at the dates. We were the same age.

"That's terrible," I said, and started to walk away until I noticed that my dad still lingered.

Life is weird.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1239546

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

777425
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

774855
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

500487
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

310910
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

447088

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

302042

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

203392
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments