Today, we had no plans, so Nathan and I decided to get in our car and drive nowhere in particular, stopping wherever we felt like it. Our aimlessness took us along the scenic route south towards Victoria, where we stopped at an antiques mall, various roadside markets, and a beautiful old church somewhere near Duncan. I wanted to photograph the church, so Nathan pulled over and I began sizing up the church from various angles.
The church was St. Ann’s, and was surrounded on three sides by a large, rambling graveyard. As we meandered around the graves, taking great care not to step on any (which was more challenging than it sounds; the rows were tight and not altogether straight), I began to notice how unusually colourful our surroundings were. Each grave was marked not only with its typical stone or wooden marker at the head, but covering it from head to foot was a jumble of fabric flowers, lanterns, statues, dolls, teddy bears, toy cars, and personal belongings of every variety. The family and friends of the deceased, it seemed, had created, and maintained, beautiful memorials on the graves of lost loved ones buried here.
I’ve never seen another graveyard like this, and I found it beautiful and quietly joyful and tragic all at the same time. On one hand, the memories clearly live on, but on the other, are the bereft ever truly able to say goodbye?