Big changes happening here in MosaicMoodland. Things I see on the horizon are near enough to be almost satisfying (soon, hopefully soon).
I have been woefully indolent this late summer and managed to resuscitate it only at the very end. I am excited that I entered the 5th Annual Day of the Dead Group Show at a wonderfully eclectic venue, Eagle Rock’s Cactus Gallery.
I completed two pieces (see below) in time for the show, which opens on Saturday, October 10 (their website mistakenly says October 3). I love Dia de los Muertos art and enjoyed learning about its history and traditions. A web search for Dia de los Muertos will yield a lot of amazing work, from decorative sugar skulls to fine art.
I’ll let you look it up if you’re interested in the details but I love the way this celebration connects the living with the dead so naturally. Wiki says, “Many people believe that during the Day of the Dead, it is easier for the souls of the departed to visit the living.” So they basically invite the souls of lost loved ones to come round and “hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them.” Plans and preparations abound, and the spirits of the dead are welcomed home, enticed by food and drink, and much reminiscing.
I have often wished I had been raised with some relation to the dead other than seeing sorrow in my mother’s eyes and feeling grief settle in the house. In my family, death was handled with hushed voices and closed doors… and a fair amount of alcoholism. I had never been to a funeral before my mother’s, never seen a dead body before hers — a shocking way to meet death for the first time.
The hilltop cemetery where my mom and grandmother are buried is decorated by smallish, plastic flowers at far less than half of the gravesites. All grave markers are recessed into the grass. I prefer cemeteries with proud, standing headstones of various shapes and sizes. Cemeteries should not look like golf courses. If so, where are the dead? We are not allowed to leave anything on the grass, which must be mowed. All flowers have to be left in preplanted, in-ground urns which many graves don’t have. Besides, our harsh winds and sun would destroy real flowers within hours if not minutes. Last March, my cheeks were bitten by the wind there, my lungs made sore from the dry air.
I’ve not been accompanied to their graves since their death. I have no tradition, unless you call ignoring death a tradition. I see now that I could have started one with my own children, if I had known what I know now, that it’s okay (and necessary) to celebrate the lives of the dead, that it won’t kill you (although sometimes it feels like it).
So here’s to Dia de los Muertos. Even though I am not Mexican and I am not Catholic (I am not even religious), I am human, and I miss so many people that I have loved.