One of the places I’ve always dreamed of visiting in Paris but unfortunately never had the chance to (until now) was the world-famous cemetery of Père Lachaise. While most people wandering around were looking for the graves of either Oscar Wilde or Jim Morrison, I was more interested in the vast amount of classical music composers and renaissance artists that had been buried there. To anyone who knows me slightly well, it comes as no surprise that my main goal (and the first place where I dragged my tired better half to) was Frederic Chopin‘s grave. I am a massive fan of romantic classical music (Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, etc) and to see a statue of Chopin holding fresh, vibrant red rose was very emotional to me. The tombstone was full of red roses as well which left me wondering if there’s some popular custom associated with that. I’ve always been drawn to Chopin, since while his pieces are very famous, his tragic backstory isn’t that much common knowledge – while he is widely believed to have died at 39 from tuberculosis, he had suffered from very poor health his entire life and the final diagnosis of his death remains unclear to this day.
The most beautiful thing about this cemetery, however big, maze-like, discouragingly hard to navigate it may be (WHY ARE THERE NO MAPS AVAILABLE), is the fact that the graves of famous artists and musicians are piled up with the rest of us normal folk. They don’t get a special area, they’re not protected, which makes them very hard to find if you’re looking for someone specific. To me, it’s a welcome reminder that, in the end, no matter who we were and how, why and how long we lived, we all return to the very same earth, in the very same state. There is a unique, pure equality in death that can never be in life.
“…and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth; ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
From the Book of Common Prayer