I like to ride my bike up to the old cemetery While that sounds weird, it’s nice and quiet and I can actually hear myself think. I’ve gone around and seen all of the gravestones and wooden cross and simple rock markers many times, wondering who these people were. But I wonder most of all about Walter Smith.
Walter Smith died on April 20th, 1891- one hundred and one years and a week before I was even born. The thing that affects me so much about seeing Walter’s headstone, more than anyone else’s, is that he was sixteen. Sixteen years, six months, and twelve days old when he died. As of now, I’m one month, two weeks and three days short of seventeen. It’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll be seventeen, but it should have been for Walter too.
I wonder about how he died, why he died. Was he sick? Did he get thrown from a horse or something? Did he think he was going to live to be seventeen, and not even consider that he would die on April 20th? I wonder if he had siblings, and what his parents’ names were. “T.C.” and “L” don’t give me much to go on. I’m guessing their family must have been well off to have such a nice tombstone. I’m guessing his family moved or are buried elsewhere, because he’s the only Smith in this cemetery.
I wonder about who Walter was. What did he want to do with his life? Be a farmer, go to college, something like that. Could he have ever imagined that people would be able to fly? Could he have ever imagined that someday women would have the right to vote? I wonder if he had a girlfriend, or whatever they were called in the late eighteen hundreds.
I wonder why he died, and why no one else. Not that I’m implying that I wanted someone else to die instead of Walter, but why Walter? His life was barely even started and it was taken away from him. Why did no one in this day and age die when they were barely sixteen and a half? What gives me the right to be seventeen when Walter never got the chance?
For some reason, standing next to the grave of a boy I don’t even know who lived a hundred years ago, makes me appreciate life so much. And the weird thing is, I’m probably one of the only people who even knows that Walter even existed. No one else knew about Walter until now, and now he’s sort of immortalized on an Internet page. It’s an accomplishment of sorts, because now people will remember Walter even though he’s gone, and I have that credit for myself now.
So, I’ll end now, leaving everyone to ponder that.
I was kind of deep sometimes.
And I can’t say it any more articulately now than I did then.