Death in Small-Town Texas: From Crystal City to Uvalde
“Don’t behave as if you are destined to live forever. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good. Now.” — Marcus Aurelius
Recently I was asked to document a two-day funeral out west. During my time here, I’ve been fortunate to visit many diverse places all over the US. No matter how small a town may be, two things are for sure one will find; a McDonald’s and a Walmart. But not here. To get to Crystal City, we head westwards. West of San Antonio, passing through Pearsall, hit the back roads. This is west, like, really west. Forty-five minutes drive to the border of Mexico, type-of-west.
There’s the usual somber, melancholy atmosphere that funerals tend to have. I’ve always appreciated funerals as a vehicle for reflection. It’s that one event where everyone realizes that life moves fast, and it’s time to pause and look around. These moments of clarity are essential and sadly often overlooked, as at least I am guilty of such. Call me a cynic, but it was a beautiful two-day event spent with the best company possible.
It was all so lovely until it wasn’t. It was not until we arrived at Uvalde that small-town Texas became strange. Visiting any memorial is bleak, thought-provoking at times, but bleak. The Uvalde memorial was neither. It was pure despair. “Thoughts and prayers” are plastered everywhere as people wait for another event like this to happen. Because, as time has proven, these events will happen again while we sit on our hands and look to fictional powers to solve our problems.
Coming from one small town to another, I was inspired by one and discouraged by another. Upon reflecting, I cannot think of a more authentic way to sample this grand experiment that we call America.
Technical note: Black and white images are processed with my “Ilford Delta 100” film simulation. Color images are my “Kodak E 200” sim. All shot on Fujifilm.