Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Memory of Christopher

During my visit to Graceland Cemetery this weekend -- as a reminder, is located right smack in the middle of northside Chicago -- I was wandering through when I spotted this sight ahead, tucked away among the changing small trees and grasses.

Christopher from behind

Naturally, I went closer to investigate.

In memory of our beloved son Christopher

The stone reads, "In Memory of our Beautiful and Beloved Son Christopher." It's a family plot; there are two footstones below, with room for one more. The middle one is for Dr. Christopher Manuel, who died at the age of 39 in 2005. The second one must be his mother (I'm guessing from the birthdates listed) who died this August 2007.

Christopher face-on

Christopher's memorial

From what I've been able to discern on the web, this memorial was erected in late 2006. It's one of most unusual I've ever seen, and definitely sad and haunting. I couldn't stop taking pictures of it, and thinking about how loving this family must have been, and how devastated they clearly were by his death. All graves are sad in their own ways, but this one's grief seemed especially piercing to me. Maybe it's the personal and yet theatrical style of headstone, or the way it's hidden away in the cemetery but when you're close enough you can see there's nothing hidden at all.

Christopher from the side

Christopher and the Song Verse

The verse is from an old song, "For All We Know", which has been recorded by dozens of artists over the years.

I then left Christopher.

Christopher among the grasses

And so he sits, facing the small still pond, playing his silent flute for anyone who comes close enough to find him again.

Christopher faces the water


  1. What truly astounding photographs! There is something quite ethereal about them -the second last one in particular. Really quite hypnotic. You have captured the fall trees and the flute players pose perfectly!

    Hope you are well.


  2. All I can say is "wow". Not only are the photos beautiful, you did it in a very respectful way. Kris

  3. Thanks, David and Kris. I'm glad you liked!

  4. Excellent photos, K. What a find.

  5. I was curious, so...

    Lovely pictures. And what a nice resting place.

  6. Sorry, Guess the link didn't work. Christopher Manuel was an Anesthesiologist at Rush. His obit is dated 09/04/05 in the Tribune archive.

  7. Interesting, thanks Anonymous. I couldn't find anything about him on the web except other shots of the statue. It's an amazing tribute from his family.

  8. Kristen, I was happy to come across your blog and see the photos of Christopher Manuel's grave. My husband and I love Graceland cemetery and we were there two weeks ago. It's a wonderful place to take photos. We discovered Christopher's grave and were surprised that we had not seen it before. I love your photography and I will be back to visit your blog again.

  9. If you are inclined, please add one or more of your photos of Christopher Manuel's grave to his findagrave memorial:

    Lovely work, BTW