The writer on contemplating death at an early age:
"For a time I thought that if I ignored death it would ignore me. At school, I tried not looking out across at the cemetery; I shielded my eyes when I was driven past it in the mornings and afternoons, turned my face away any time I was made to go outside during the day. But the grounds and the graves were always there on my blurred periphery. Even tucked away inside the school building, sitting in class or walking the halls, I felt a dark, sickly pull, like death had me in its sights, like it was daring me, just daring me, to look it in the eye.
"I wasn’t even safe at home, or asleep. That fall I began to dream of death—or perhaps I had always dreamed of death but it was only then that I was able to remember the dreams in any detail when I woke. I was so much a child then that it is almost hard to comprehend. I feel like I never possibly could have been so small, so new. When things happened then, they happened for the first time. They had never happened before."
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5379 words)
A Chattanooga man dedicates his life to cleaning up an abandoned cemetery for African Americans founded in the 1890s:
"Cemeteries aren’t built for the dead; they’re built for the living.
"Those inscriptions on the tombstones—'In Memory,' 'Rest in Peace'—are as much wishes for the departed as they are implied contracts with those left behind. But promises etched in stone can still be broken. “Gone but not Forgotten,” some of the headstones say, and at times David feels like he’s the only reason that’s still true. The more he clears, though, the more he sees fresh flowers, or at least fresh silk flowers, left on graves. That means people are coming, that they’re finding what, or who, they’re looking for. They are paying their respects, making their peace."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3963 words)