There is always something creepy about New Orleans. No matter how many times I visit I still find myself jumping at shadows in the French Quarter. The moss covered brick buildings, the wrought iron, the shuttered windows that have fallen into ill repair… For some reason my kids were less impressed than I always am.
We walked for two hours, visiting my favorite shops and cafes. The Mississippi River was there in all her power. I bought the children pralines in the French Market and somehow missed Café du Monde despite having been there several times. Bourbon street raised all the usually elementary questions from my children: “Mommy, why are there so many strip joints?”
I somehow also managed to bump into an old friend from Los Angeles. Small world. He looked well, despite the fact that the last time I saw him I was dropping him off at the welfare office in Pico Union.
In the end, I decided to take the kids to a cemetery to see the old New Orleans style burial grounds. I couldn’t remember the one I visited before, but somehow managed to pick it by chance. The last time I was there I was 20 years old, bright eyed and filled with idealism. I had a crush on a fellah whose last name was McCall and took a picture of a grave with that name because it was there.
I told my kids about the story and they demanded to see it. But by the time we got in the gate it was three minutes until closing. I told them to shoot some quick pictures because there was no way we would find it in rows and rows of possibilities before the gates were locked.
And then we turned a corner and there it was! The kids were full of smiles and wanted their pictures taken with a grave to some ancient ancestors. Looking through the camera glass, I was struck by the oddness of it… 18 years later, here I was with the children of the boy I had a crush on. Here was the grave, still here, not looking even a day older than when I left it.
It was a reminder that death is waiting for me. For all of us. We don’t have much time here. I, for one, want to live my life with purpose and with no regrets. “Live free or die!” Death is not the enemy and it is not to be avoided at all cost… because, in the end, it comes for us whether we lived in light of it or not.