We remember all Souls.

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by Tim Burdick on 02 November, 2013

Looking through my notebooks, I found this memory of my first Dušičky (Or All Soul's Day) in the Czech Republic. After all these years, I still consider it one of the most beautiful holidays.


I hope you take time today to remember someone close who is no longer with you and hold him or her in your heart for a few quiet moments.


Nov 2nd, 2009

On the #10 tram, I run into my colleague Freddie from Philly.

"So, where are you headed?"

"School, going to do some photocopying for the week. You? "

"Visiting a cemetary." I reply matter-of-factly.

"Jumping out and scaring old ladies, are we?" He grins."Well, enjoy,"

I exit the tram. Dusk is falling on Praha and only the bare outlines of buildings remain in the street lights fuzzy glow. From the tram stop, I cross the busy road as cops direct traffic. Through the iron gates, I follow an elderly couple into Olsankse hribitov, one of the largest cemetaries in the city.

I wander between the rows of graves decorated with candles of different shapes and sizes. Most are cleaned: dead leaves swept clear, dirt and dust wiped away, and wilted flowers replaced with fresh ones. In the soft light, I peer at the tomb stones, hoping to find Jan Palach or Karel Kryl's grave. In the somber darkness, I remember lost lovel ones.

Finally, on a main path, a woman leans out of the pitch black; her face only a foot or two from mine. "Tïm?"

Stepping back, I blurt out. "Hanka?" My czech teacher. My heart eventually slows down after several minutes. I stop and have a chat with her and her husband.

"How long have you been here?"

"About an hour."

"It's beautiful. All these lights." She smiles, looking over the endless candles lit among the graves.

"Yes, ..." I nod.

"If you enter trhough the south entrance, it's like walking into an Edgar Allen Poe novel. " She indicates toward a path.

"Or harry potter?" her husband suggests.

After I leave them, I visit the ash fields. Two small plots covered in tea lights, votive candles, wreaths and flowers.

I have another silent moment
gazing over this sight and then
head into
the evening mist
and home.

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