Stories That Need To Be Told

Gravestone RI

Old cemeteries are full of stories. You can feel them, pressing all around you waiting to be discovered and told. There is the baby who only lived for 17 days, buried between her sisters. There is the even younger baby, six days old and never given a name. There is the man buried between his wives, one married shortly after the other died. Was it love or expediency? Was he lonely or did he need a housekeeper? There is the grave just on the other side of the fence with the name that isn't seen anywhere else in the cemetery. Where did he come from and why is he buried there all alone?

cemetery RI

cemetery RI

gravestone for baby RI

Gravestone RI

We pushed our way through the overgrown grasses, the yellowing ferns, and the briars that caught at our clothes. We crouched down, tracing the fading engraving with our fingers, and calling out softly to each other when we managed to decipher the names and dates. We pieced together the families and the relationships and told ourselves stories of what could have been and what might have happened.

autumn ferns

ferns and stone wall

Then we left, jumping down from the stone wall and brushing the leaves and grasses from our skirts. We left behind the stones and the names and the rickety fence. But we couldn't leave behind the stories. They crowded around us, begging to be heard, as we walked down the road.

Old cemeteries are full of stories. They just need someone to listen to them.

New England picket fence

autumn in New England



13 comments

  1. Beautiful photographs and a wonderful post.

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  2. We have perused old burial grounds around the world. Wondered about the stories behind the young sailor lad who fell from the Crow's Nest of his ship, the baby buried among the trees outside the cemetery fence, a mother and her children who died within days of each other....

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    1. They are fascinating, aren't they? So many stories in just a few words on a gravestone.

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  3. Stunning photography. And just the way we feel.

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  4. This is lovely. I always wonder about the stories hidden in cemeteries, too.

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    1. The cemeteries where you live are so much older. There must be some fascinating stories there.

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  5. What a beautiful post. In my younger days,I spent many a lovely summer day wandering through cemeteries.

    BTW - the one buried outside the fence likely committed suicide. Religious restrictions prevented such ones from being buried on the "sacred ground" of the cemetery proper.

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    1. That is so sad but that does sound familiar. I think I read about it in a book at some point. Now I will be wandering the edges of the cemeteries looking for the ones who weren't allowed in.

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  6. I LOVE THIS POST.

    My husband and I used to be avid graveyarders, but now it's been several years since we stopped to ramble through any graveyards. He used to love it when I would try to piece together stories like this, and would contribute his own ideas too.

    My thought on the one buried outside the fence is the same as the above commenter's -- very likely a suicide. So sad.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Cemeteries are fascinating, aren't they? My daughter was with me when we stopped and she was so interested. She couldn't understand why we were stopping at first but by the end she was very enthusiastic.

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    2. When we lived in Danbury, we had a really big cemetery only a couple of blocks from our house. It was the only big open space with grass and trees, so I would take my kids there in the stroller. It was so peaceful and relaxing, except for the joggers. So many joggers. Though I liked that it got a lot of traffic, as it made me feel better about wandering around with small children in a big city. The kids enjoyed the fresh air and new things to look at, and I loved reading the tombstones. I got to where I had favorites I always wanted to visit. There was one space where someone with the last name Seeley and someone with the last name Booth were buried right next to each other, and I always wondered if the person who created the show Bones had been there once and gotten the name for my favorite character, Seeley Booth, from that graveyard.

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