While traveling in Argentina, we visited La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. Since 1822, nearly 5,000 mausoleums have been constructed in the highest fashion of the times, from Baroque and Neo-Gothic to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. La Recoleta is a city for the dead, with elegant marble tombs neatly laid out in blocks over fourteen acres.
Some are maintained, for love or pride. Others, like the poet Shelley’s statue of Ozymandias, have fallen into disrepair, covered with spider webs and graffiti, littered with broken glass and faded plastic flowers. Feral cats stare warily from their marble perches and skulk away sideways if approached.
We saw the grave of Eva Peron, and other statesmen, poets, generals, and presidents.
More interesting to me was the final resting place for a mother and her infant. They were not famous, but clearly they were loved. Did she and the child die in childbirth or perhaps swept away by an epidemic? In any case, a grieving husband and father was left behind to erect this memorial. Was he able to pick up the pieces of his broken life to find happiness again?
Wherever we go, we will find reminders of all the stories in this world that will never be told. When I photographed this memorial, I could be certain of only two things. Both mother and child were subject to an early and tragic demise. And, as seen by the lush green fern sprouting from the dust collecting in the cracks in the stone, life goes on.
All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck