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.
Rebecca Alvarez

Rebecca Alvarez is many things: founder, sexologist, CEO, mentor, and more — as a Latina businesswoman, each of her endeavors is grounded in the strong principles of inclusivity and diversity, especially in sexual health and wellness. Bloomi is the product of her all of her shared passions, and with it she has fostered a community of like-minded, passionate women.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is not a consistent standard for health education in the United States. There are a lot of variables that go into this — what state a student lives in, whether they go to a public or private school, and the district's funding and priorities. These variables can be argued for any subject, not just health class. But as we continue to grow as a society, hopefully bettering our education system along the way, it's crucial to consider this often-forgotten element of a child's schooling.

Keep Reading... Show less

In March, the whole country shut down. School was online, extra-curriculars were canceled, and I found myself laying in bed all day every day. One day, as I was laying in bed contemplating my laziness, I decided that I wanted to do something to make myself more healthy. I was feeling so down on myself and my laziness so I decided to make a change.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.

1368

The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Staying Active While You're Stuck Inside IS Possible, It Just Takes Some Small Steps

I know the last thing you want to think about right now is exercising, but it's time to put down the controller and put on your workout clothes.

47

As someone who has also been living on a bed since March, I can guarantee you that working out has been the last thing on my priority list. It's pretty far down there, along with my motivation and brain cells I used to use for work. However, I have made an effort in the past couple of weeks to move up exercising to at least number three on my priorities list.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Got Clean At A Very Young Age, And It Honestly Saved My Life

At 18, the world looked so much different for me than it did for most other 18-year-olds that I knew.

257
Emmie Pombo

Going into rehab when I was 19 was hands down the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. My addiction started when I was around 17 and spiraled and spiraled out of control, as addictions always do. However, looking back, I'm so lucky my addiction started and ended when it did.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

11273

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

5964
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

17703

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments