Entering a cemetery means moving into a liminal zone; a space on the cusp of past and future. The rush of traveling souls blasts us as we cross onto a smoking charnel ground. Such realms do seem best shrouded in classic fog, with old iron gates and the rustling of hidden creatures keening “the big question.”
Cemeteries are for grieving, for jolting ourselves, for reminders, for visiting, for maintaining. And they are mostly for the living.
Wandering through the New Toulouse cemetery as a newcomer in 2009, I assumed the crypts with 2 and 3-year date ranges were in memory of young children – in fact, a RL cemetery in Pittsburg California features dozens of crumbling grave sites memorializing those who died from childhood diseases in the early 20th century. But then, a few illuminating remarks from an older avatar clued me that the crypts were memorials to virtual souls. Here was the starting and stopping of pieces of our selves manifested in the SL realm.
Like so many other things, death is boundless in the metaverse. We can reinvent and rewrite our lives, arguing or loving our way from interpersonal rigor mortis to instant replay. Our loved ones vanish and then return reframed as strangers. For all involved, the anguish of such metamorphoses can be as harrowing or enlightening as a death process itself. Eventually then, could memorializing these past soul bits become a celebration of ascension to a timeless future?
Cemeteries are for fantasizing, for praying, for promises, for fights, for erotic encounters – they are for reminding ourselves we are alive and that we are going to be dead. And they are for that great chorus of soul bits who make up our world – those who may someday answer us again, given the courage and the presence to hear them.