David Cauldwell

Caretaker of Lost Souls

David CauldwellComment

Poor old emaciated Death. It gets a bit of a bad rap, although not in northern Romania where you’ll find the Merry Cemetery. Forget drab gravestones molested by lichen. In the Merry Cemetery you’ll find a series of blue oak crosses demarcating the dead. Each one has a picture of the person within the context of their life, or else the actual scene of them getting killed. There’s one image of a man the size of Godzilla being run over by a teeny car; the man has a smile on his face! Beneath the pictures are first-person poems that tell you about the person’s life. It’s like the dead are talking.

Caretaker of Lost Souls

Caretaker of Lost Souls

Some of these poems are light-hearted to the point of irreverence. On one cross, a man talks about his mother-in-law who is buried beside him. It seems that she still has a hold on the man even in the afterlife: “For those of you passing this way try not to wake her up... I intend to see that she remains here, safely in her grave.”

Mocking the dead may seem a tad tasteless, but the philosophy behind the Merry Cemetery doesn’t view death as being tragic. Rather, it is seen as a moment when the deceased enter through a gateway to a more prosperous existence – one unencumbered by suffering. This belief stems from the Daicans, ancient Greeks who once inhabited this part of Romania near the Ukrainian border.

Visiting this cemetery, which one local told me was run by the mafia (!!), got me to lighten up a little about death, to uncurl this mortal coil. And then my life became a devotion in how to die well. I see life as foreplay. Death is the release, and with the Daican perspective, it could be pretty orgasmic.

So here’s to a prosperous death. See you in the Merry Cemetery…

In a sea of atoms teetering on the brink of density
A figure levitates
Enigmatic escort
Waiting to guide those
Who have never asked the way
In the space between this life and the next
How will you find a way
To transition between physicality
And the utter estrangement of pure lightness
To resist death
Is to resist staring into the pits of your being
And accept everything that’s there
And everything that’s not
If you have not spent your life
Preparing for the moment of utmost liberation
If you have not torn up harmful family blueprints
Bolt-cut ancestral binds
If you have not dissolved all beliefs that hinder Creativity and Kindness
If you have not delved into your deepest emotional cavity
And emerged laughing at the ridiculousness
Of your own perceived self-importance
If you have not dared to deface the canvas of Existence
With patterns of your purest creative expression
Soul etchings
If you have done none of these things
Then the space between this life and the next
May engulf your spirit
The Caretaker can lead you to a place
Where you are the Creator of stardust and solar systems
But only if you live to die
To meet everything as new
To reset beliefs the moment they are born
For death is only suffrage
If it’s never been invited in as a part of life
A stranger cold and wet standing on the threshold
Of your ultimate liberation

How will you live to die well? I’m dying to know…