My grandfather’s funeral was my only encounter with death that wasn’t terrifying. After passing, he was interred in a massive cemetery in Southern California that was exquisitely maintained. It was a neatfreak’s eternal paradise. Germans would love it.
The chaos of Romanian cemeteries, on the other hand, is not for the obsessive compulsive of heart. They’re unkempt, asymmetrical and disorderly—possibly to the point of irreverence for some. But that’s what always keeps me coming back.
Cluj has two cemeteries of note—Central Cemetery and Mănăştur Cemetery. Both are massive and yet somehow cramped. While the former is close to downtown and boasts the most amazing sepulchers in the city, the latter undoubtedly has the superlative view of the city itself.
Even in death, the conflict between wanting to see and wanting to be seen rages on.
One debate that doesn’t rage on, however, is who is buried next to whom. In the Central Cemetery in particular, Hungarians and Romanians are buried side by side with the odd German popping up here and there. Nobody quibbles. Nobody cares.
It’s a lovely thing when the petty nationalism that divides neighbors gets overshadowed by the greatest shadow of all—death.
Having seen both sides of the veil, I say bury me amid chaos.