Highland Cemetery in Ypsilanti Michigan was established in 1864. Some of the grave stones are older by 20 or more years laying flat on the ground down a hillside. These grave stones are from forgotten locations that were brought here just to have a place.
The neighborhood I grew up in had a large forest at the back where we used to play building forts and exploring, those were some of the best times. The woods have mostly been removed to make room for apartments. Highland Cemetery is at the far end so sometimes when we were particularly adventurous we would walk the mile or so into the forest to reach it. When we arrived we often played a game where we would see who could find the oldest grave stone.
Over the years I’ve attended services here of friends who were taken at an early age from violence. While I loved the forest behind the neighborhood and considered myself lucky to live there it was actually in a rough part of town with frequent gun play. I can count at least eight friends from back in the day who were shot to death, two of them are buried here. When crack cocaine hit our neighborhood in the 80’s is was a war zone.
Yesterday I visited one of the grave sites of a childhood friend. He was the little brother of one of my best friends back in the day. The kind of kid who always wanted to tag along but we didn’t want him around but if didn’t get to hang out with us he would tell his mom we were being mean which always resulted in his older brother having to come home. I can still hear his voice pleading to come in and play Nintendo with us. Mostly we let him hang out with us because we had to. Out of all those who are gone I think about Tyrone the most.
A friend of mine who moved south years ago is in town and we got together yesterday at Sidetracks in Depot Town. We talked about old times of course like old friend do. Part of our conversation was naming people who are gone. He moved south 20 years ago so some of the people I named he didn’t know were gone. Gun violence is still a problem in certain circles.
I know the longer you live the more people you lose but it’s an odd thing when you have known so many people leave this earth at a young age. Death is a part of life, man is born to die, but it’s something I hear the older generation talk about not people my age. Depending on where you grow up death can lose some of its shock and you just see it as a thing that you experience at some point.