I was eighteen, spending the night with my grandmother. I was sleeping in a king size bed with my Aunt Connie and woke up suddenly because I felt people in the room with us. Speaking to us as they were shaking us awake. I wasn't sure if I was dreaming or not. Deep down in my soul I hoped I was dreaming because what they were saying to us couldn't possibly be true. Nevertheless, I bolted out of the bed and charged into the living room. There my grandmother sat in her rocking chair with tears just pouring down her face. In that instant I knew I wasn't dreaming, but I've never in my life wished more that something had only been a dream.
That is how I found out my cousin.. my best friend, had died. Just like that. Woken from a peaceful slumber to find out everything in your world had changed. It certainly wasn't the first time that had happened either. Two years before I'd sat around in a hospital with many members of my family. Watching as the hospital staff begged for my Aunt and Uncle to donate my cousin's organs. My cousin who was not yet truly dead in a real sense, but would be just as soon as my family made the unbearably painful decision to pull the plug.
I photograph graveyards because it makes me feel close to those I have lost. That might not make any sense to the rest of you, but it makes perfect sense to me. On a rainy day, when flowers on a fresh grave have been blown over from the wind, it doesn't matter that I might not have known the person who lies underneath the earth. The fact is that they once walked upon the earth and now they no longer can. I pick up all the blown over flower arrangements and put them back in their place.. and then I step back and photograph the scene. Many flowers left by loved ones. One of the very last visible signs of just how much someone had been loved.
Once I happened upon a fresh grave that had no flowers at all. That was definately the saddest one of all. I sat at that grave for a very long time.