As bulldozers and cranes tore up the grass and lay bare an open wound of soil and stone, I paused to wonder if they realized what they were doing. Granted, they were contracted to fix pipes in the cooling reservior, but to get to them, they had to dig through the jetty that surrounded the lakefill. Those massive stones that protected the lagoon from the surrounding Lake Michigan were a place to sit and read in the summer and a melancholy walk in the winter. The rocks were of all sizes and shapes and the myriad of color from the outlying grafitti only added character. The writing was of poetry and cries to the world and occasionally one could find an epitaph. When the Machines carved
indifferently through the seawall, the little markers, signifying each resting place was dumped unceremoniously in a giant heap.
Memories though never lost in the mind, were forgotten in the dirt. This was the destruction of a cemetary, yet the could not know that they were desecrating a grave for the bodily remains of the dead resided elsewhere. They had not been moved to a new plot of land, nor have they mysteriously vanished by any means. These are the suicide victims at the lakefill.
It was a cold winter day in 1989 that I was walking lonely on the jetty. The snow had fallen into the many crevices among the rocks at the water’s edge, and though ice had glazed over the rough surfaces, the painted messages people leave on these slabs were still legible pronouncements love and despair. Many of the words seemed too contrived and sensationalistic to be real, that is, I came upon the black stone. Many may remember this rectangular stone which resembled nothing more than a fallen monolith of ebony. painted upon its almost smooth surface were boldly written words of hopelessness. Perhaps that the words were obscured in a foreign language made the meaning even more clear, for although they were written in some slavic tongue, a lone bunch of flowers wrapped in tissue placed on its surface said everything. This had been a real person, someone special to someone else. Why he had killed himself I cannot say, but I have never seen more anguish than that wilted flower upon the cold hard stone. I cannot but share in the saddness in this death nor cannot help but share in the grief of those surviving, and now it is gone, lost in a project for the living.