Preparing for an Álamos Funeral

86… There comes a moment when we all say goodbye…

Grave Digger in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico graveyard.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The Alamos cemetery provides an inspired and sacred work place.

There is always work for the grave diggers be it preparing the graves or maintaining the cemetery in a park-like setting for visitors and residents alike.

A fresh grave is being dug, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Another inhabitant will soon join those from the near and distant past.

Hours layer this grave will be occupied. Across town friends and family are preparing for a day all knew would come sooner or later. The earth gives way to the relentless pick.

The tombstone makers, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The maestro's assistant watches another tombstone in progress.

Tombstones are made outdoors across Arroyo La Barranca and Arroyo La Aduana at the foot of Cerro Compana. Words of love and respect are chiseled into stone as stone gives way to the persistent Maestro’s tools.

the body is arriving at Bishop Reye's Cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A time of loss, mourning, memorializing and inner reflection.

The church is ready, the church is always ready. The body has arrived followed by those who wish to say farewell and share with others this sad moment of passing.

Carrying casket into Bishop Reyes' Cathedral, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

Church bells ring out as solemn friends and family approach.

For one the wait is over, for others it is an emotional weight that will slowly pass with time. Today a name will be spoken out loud, in months it will be recalled in mind and soul and whispered to no one but oneself and the universe.

They proceed to the graveyard, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson..

After church services the procession across town begins as bells ring.

A mass leaves mass and the cobblestones of Alamos bear witness to another passing. There is a path from the church to the cemetery that has been worn smooth by loss and love.

Funeral procession approaches the cemetery, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

A procession travels through Barrio La Compana as it nears the cemetery.

And they came in numbers day after day, year after year, century after century… it is what humans do. They walk, they talk, they cry and recall moments that were and plans that did not come to be… it is what humans do.

People arrived at the cemetery for the services, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.  Photo by Anders Tomlinson,

The procession has slowly made its way east from the church.

The fresh grave awaits, clouds line the morning horizon, crows chatter in surrounding trees and barrio dogs go about their barking as the sounds of daily Alamos life echoes off surrounding hills and mountains. For some, at this moment, their world has stopped amidst the world that goes on uninterrupted.

Procession through the cemetery, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Anders Tomlinson.

The dead await a new arrival, passing feet kick up dust, little needs to be said.

People travel narrow pathways, cut flowers, in passing, brush against closely place tombs. The street-wide procession through town from church has become a solemn single rank slow marching to the grave.

It is another day in the graveyard. Not just another day… but another day. It has been this way since 1794 when this plot of land was deemed the municipal cemetery. Graveyards are a special place: they are public art, they are public history and they are markers of their own civilization. And another day begins… and somewhere out there someone is dying and somewhere near here someone is being born. In the end it is all about this precious balance we call life.
Photos and editing by Anders Tomlinson. Music from “Camino Songs” by SonicAtomics.

A mourning mother’s deep wails, crows cawing – perched on white crosses…
It is a warm spring day as we explore the “Pantheon” – (Cemetery) on the road to the Sierra Madres, minutes east of the Colonial Center. The ages speak here. Be it ancient mountain sounds or human voices, mourning and celebrating since 1794. All is timeless, and all thoughts are a point on our circle of life.

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