After many encounters, doubts, questions, and arguments, we were finally able to reach Metfern Cemetery, the final resting place for the patients from Metropolitan State Hospital (now defunct psychiatric hospital) and Walter E. Fernald State School (an institution for people with developmental disabilities) located somewhere in the nature trail in Waltham, MA.
As the sign on the cemetery entrance shows, the MSH and Fernald patients between 1947 and 1979 are buried here. The number of burials differs depends on the source, but there are over 300 headstones sorted by "C + number" as Catholics, and "P + number" as Protestants (I first thought the P stands as "P"atients.) There are four gravestones with names, and the years of birth and death (and one of them needs a serious maintenance.)
An alter roughly divides the Catholic and Protestant plot. I thought there is a sculpture of a candle on the alter. But looking at the pictures I took, it is more likely a remain of a statue snapped out from the bottom.
As a person outside of Christianity, I was wondering why the distinction between the two beliefs mattered more than the patients' individual identities.
My husband, Brian, was following after me while I was investigating the cemetery. But after he saw steps only existed on the Protestant side, a guy from a "small" Irish family sat on the other side and began to read a book. For him, the steps are the luxury only available to Protestants.
As I returned from the Protestant side, he was looking at a gravestone of an Irish baby girl. He seemed to be feeling closer to her because she was born only a year different from him. Considering from her young age, she might have been at Fernald. As I imagined her short life, I was remembering what I read from a brilliant book about a life of a Catholic boy who wrongfully put in the institution during the 50's.
There was a new cross in front of the alter contributed by the ex-children of the Gaebler (the MSH branch for youths.) They must have visited the Gaebler building before the demolition, and then stopped by the graveyard with the cross. We all should remember a thoughtful note from them: "Though your names are not known, Your lives will never be forgotten..."
Continues to: Metropolitan State Hospital, Waltham
Locate Metfern Cemetery @ Google map
P.S.: On the way back from the cemetery...
I've never seen a snake here in the US before. I deem it as a symbol of immortality.
A direction to Metfern Cemetery (good one, too): http://www.temblast.com/metfern/directions.htm