le cimetière du Montparnasse

on my way back to the métro Monday, i had to walk along the outside of Montparnasse Cemetery, a place i have loved since i was new to France and struggling to pick up the language in Sorbonne phonetique classes that were held nearby.  one of the side gates was open, and my grey mood somehow provided the perfect excuse for a return visit.

i felt myself pulled inside towards my favorite grave.  along the way, i passed old headstones sanded into near illegibility by centuries of city air and lanky family tombs with shattered stained glass windows.

 

there were graves blanketed with flowers and graves decorated with picture plaques.

gravestones carved with Chinese and Hebrew, tombs filled with families stretching back hundreds of years…and there were statues, both modern and classical.

everywhere you look there is something to seduce the eye.

many writer, actors, musicians and artists are buried there, and their graves are among some of my favorites.  like this guy:

i hadn’t been to the cemetery in years, but Monday i was missing little sun something terrible, and for some reason all those graves whispered comfort to me.  all those monuments, big and small, to sons and daughters, mothers, fathers, friends and lovers, all lost.   all around me were the stone remains of stories and love, people whispering, shouting, even screaming, “Remember him!  Remember her!  Remember this person who mattered to me.”

and of course, i was remembering the person who mattered most to me.  i found myself drawn in the direction of one particular grave…my favorite one.

for some reason it made me think of little sun.

2013-03-11 10.44.01

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2 thoughts on “le cimetière du Montparnasse

  1. Suzanne

    <3 I have always loved cemeteries, but now they definitely have a new weight with my own dear loss. These photos are beautiful. I don't know any cemetery anywhere that has such artful memorials. Too often the memorials can be so formal and stoic, and these seem so much more intimate and personal. Intriguing. I love that last picture. I would love to see that in real life. Those days – those early days of loss and grief – can be so fierce. The wound is still there for me, and I've been told that it will always be there. But is not as raw. Be so gentle with yourself <3

    Reply
  2. Sadie

    This is a beautiful and very evocative post. Cemeteries also hold a special pull for me. In Portugal, where we lived for a time after my son died, the people are still very devoted to their catholic ways, and they have a practice of building little chapels, just one pew wide, for each extended family to go and worship close to those they’ve loved and lost. Although I’m not religious myself, I think this is such a lovely tradition, because it makes those spaces ones where living as well as death happens, where that love and desire for remembrance you so eloquently write about are very tangible, and remain a part of family life.

    Reply

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