My fascination with cemeteries began when I was 13 years old, I think. The reason is probably more bizarre than the fascination itself. Back then, I lived in East Aurora, New York. An idyllic village only a handful of minutes southeast of Buffalo. The rural roads and quiet town streets accommodated bicycles very well.
I was branching out on my new ten speed. Driveway to neighborhood. Neighborhood to railroad tracks. Finally, miles down to East Aurora itself.
Another person hatched in me that summer. Actually, you see him here oftentimes. I was driven to experience a lot more alone. Quiet places and late afternoon sunlight. One of the places I found myself visiting was a cemetery in town. In 1983 I stood under the huge oaks unsure why I was there, but somehow compelled to be nonetheless.
One particular gravestone called me back time and time again.
A baby's grave.
I could almost see the couple standing along the forest edge overlooking the creek below. The nameless stone somehow drenched the shadows in sadness.
Maybe it never occurred to me before that a baby could even die.
A little over a week ago, I stood there again.
If I thought I would brush by my old self in the cooling sunlight of East Aurora, I was mistaken.
He was standing quite comfortably in my shoes.
Twenty-five years later.