Embracing life and death in Sleepy Hollow, home of Washington Irving's infamous Headless Horseman.
For as long as I can recall, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving has been a favorite story and the Headless Horseman, a favorite villain (after Michael Myers, of course). While I'm by no means a horror fanatic, and Christmas trumps Halloween in being my favorite holiday, the story of the gangly schoolteacher called Ichabod Crane and his frightful encounter with the ghost of a Hessian trooper who lost his head by cannonball in the Revolutionary War will always be my cup of tea. One thing that rings true for the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow, local legend and lore still occupy a large space in its inhabitants hearts. Take a stroll through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and pay your respects to familiar names such as Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Arden, and William Rockefeller. Since 1849, its 90-acres have seen over 45,000 interments. I found myself in awe of the mausoleums and one headstone in particular that read:
"Out of the dusk a shadow, then a spark. Out of the cloud a silence, then a lark. Out of the heart a rapture, then a pain. Out of the dead cold ashes life again."
The headstone was in memory of Ethel Gould Blair, born January 13, 1878 to Charles Judson Gould and Annie Laura Westbrook. She was the beloved wife of Walter Dabney Blair and mother to Harrison Westbrook Blair. At the time of her death on December 15, 1928, she was only 50 years young. What grabbed me most on her headstone was the bottom which says, "Gentle & gracious were all her ways." And then I wonder - what would be said of me when I go? And then I remember, talking about death is taboo, right? And then I remember, I'm an HSP and talking about superficial things isn't my jam. I want to have meaningful conversations and learn more from others so that I can be better so that when I leave this world, someone might think that I too, was gentle and gracious. My point is, we wait until people die before we say the nice things and we don't talk enough about what we leave behind that's intangible and far more important than assets and liabilities. Let's talk about how important it is to heal from past traumas and treat yourself with love and respect so that you can pay it forward to others. Let's talk about how the human experience is no different than the experience of any other species on the planet - we are here to exist for a while and then die. Our time is finite and it's more important what we do with the time we have here and now and what we'll pass along to the next generation. If our goal is to truly keep the human race evolving and growing and thriving, then let's talk about how it's important to challenge social norms, ask questions, take a stance, fight for things you believe in, find causes you actually believe in, spend time with people who inspire you to try harder to be a better human, donate your time and don't be greedy, open your heart and give a crap about the person next door... can we be all sunshine and rainbows? Idealistically, yes. Realistically, no. But I'm going to do what I can to be better and try harder despite the odds. You should do the same - life's too short and nothing's ever promised.
All photographs captured by Mollie Crowe. Copyright (C) 2022 Little Blackbird Photo LLC. All Rights Reserved.