Remembering Our Dead

When mom died, I felt adrift, like my anchor was gone.

When dad left us too, it was a kick in the stomach.

Their absence is keenly felt. Not just on the Day of the Dead.

But everyday.

As my attempt at a poem reflects, the death of loved ones hurts very deeply. And it doesn’t just hurt when they first die, but for many years after. I don’t think my pain at losing my parents will ever go away. Not until I die too.

With that sense of loss in mind, I decided to go to a Day of the Dead event today (November 2, 2019) in Spain. There are actually three days of events here, collectively known as El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead in English). This three-day celebration begins October 31st with Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), continues with Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) November 1st, and ends with Dia de los Muertos November 2nd.

I went to the municipal cemetery in Torrevieja, a city in the Southeastern part of Spain, besides the Mediterranean Sea. It was packed with Spanish families honoring their deceased loved ones. There was a parade that included a life-sized replica of the Virgin Mary, held up on a platform by many devout older women. The women were all dressed in black and wore white blouses and white gloves. Then there was a band that played behind “La Purisima.”

It appeared that almost all of the hundreds of grave sites there were adorned with a wide variety of flowers in honor of one’s departed loved-ones on this important religious occasion. Many monuments also included statutes of Jesus, Mary or both of them. Many also had candles, both lit and unlit.

Even though I am not Catholic, like most Spaniards, I appreciated the care they gave to their departed family members through coming to the cemetery on the Day of the Dead. While there, I wished I could transport myself to Kenilworth, Illinois and lay a flower under the columbarium where my parents are buried to honor them and let them know I was thinking about them this day and every day.

Here are some of the photos I took at the Cementerio Municipal Torrevieja (Torrevieja Municipal Cemetery).

Beneath this woman’s name, Serafina Villaron Casas, it says your children and grand-daughter do not forget you. On the left of Serafina’s photo is Jesus. To her right, is the Virgin Mary.
Banner designating start of the parade with representation of the Virgin Mary

Dressed up older women carrying the Virgin Mary
Band that played behind La Purisima being held up by a dozen women


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