Posted by: jamesotis | August 1, 2008

It ended with a Storey

  Yes, my spelling is correct.

  I spent the last hours of daylight today wandering a cemetery. Not in my usual quest for the best names for a character, but for reasons I still cause me to wonder. What made me choose the public computer, or the subsequent visit to the nearest library long before my computer time was up, or take the almost magnetic turn into the cemetary where my brother’s bones lie? I can’t even pretend to understand, other than it being the time of year that he died.

  What struck me today, through my grief and pain, was the sheer irony of some of the names (alright, it usually does – some sort of emotional defense mechanism). Not to make light or speak ill of the dead, but one wonders …

the names Graves and Turner were prolific, as were many less polite in their irony. I had to smile at the bench inscribed as follows: “Life is not defined by the breaths you take but by your breathless moments.” If this is true, the man beneath lives eternally.

  I was also struck by the lasting kindness and hospitality of the deceased and their families. Benches to sit upon, kind words that extend beyond one funeral and touch a passing mourner. A clever pun, a story or poem capturing a life in a nutshell. The very gathering of graves in a community message: “You are not alone.”

  I wandered for several hours, taking in the contrast of unfilled holes and a crypt so old that the markings have eroded and it’s walls now crumbling but long ago recast; the grave of a immigrant and that of his mother, re-entered in a free land (she died the year her son was born, presumably in birth).  The prayer beads around a stone statue’s neck, or the collector’s MatchBox toy cars at the foot of a child’s headstone and the bones of a cottontail beneath a tree. My sobs were punctuated by laughs and smiles at the oddities that now seem so trivial. Or the final messages that gave new meaning to death and life, or comfort as if my company were not wild animals and bones but friends and well-wishers, both from this side and the other.

  As I walked memories came back: the feel of the fabric lining Duffy’s coffin, the autopsy photos, my preschooler’s desire to be a pallbearer, the favorite songs sung for old time’s sake; smells, sounds, sensations and words that are a supprise even given my long memory. Older still the sound of his voice, being taught careful lessons and wisdom that I use to this day. His perpetual smile, His life’s joy that spread like a grass fire.

  I wandered for a while taking pix with my cell phone. The last was of a stone bearing the name Storey. Which made me think of all the stories nearly concluded there, just the Epilogue being written. This is my brother’s story.

Duffy David Brown
Birth:   Sep. 24, 1969
Death:   Aug. 12, 1985
Unmarked grave.
Arvada Cemetery
Jefferson County
Colorado, USA
Plot: Block 29, Lot 11, Section 14

Thanks to the Arvada Historical Society and Mark S. for providing this info on the web.



  1. Beautiful.
    I haven’t been in more than 10 years. I think about it often though. By any chance are there still roses growing on his grave?

  2. No roses.

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