In 1958, construction began on the Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Doral, Florida. The initial construction took two years to complete, and mass was first held on Memorial Day in 1960. Since that time, the cemetery has continued to be an important part of the Doral community.
Photographing the Dead
From Catholic mass to the parting of loved ones, many people rely on the services offered at Our Lady of Mercy. But for one local man, the cemetery has instilled an irrepressible fear within him. “I teach photography at the local college, and during the summer months, I take on a couple of freelance projects to keep me busy,” Gene (Name changed for privacy) told us.
“A couple years ago, an elderly woman and her husband were visiting the grave of her deceased sister and she saw that I had a camera strapped around my neck. She offered to pay me money if I would take a couple of good shots of her sister’s resting place. It seemed strange at the time, but the couple were extremely grateful.
“Mrs. Lafferty wound up telling her friends about me, and soon I was getting numerous phone calls asking if I could take more photos at the cemetery,” he shrugged good naturedly. “I thought it was kind of morbid, personally, but my clients wanted the photos for future generations so I agreed. For two summers, everything was fine.
“But I had a rather chilling experience last September. The sun was setting, and it was the perfect lighting for a couple of really beautiful shots. I brought my SLR to my eye and as I peered through it, I thought I saw something dark move in the corner of the lens.
“I glanced up, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary,” Gene said. “So I shrugged it off and brought the camera back up to my face. And the same thing happened—something dark loomed in the corner.
“I jerked my head to get a better look at whatever it was, but it seemed to hover just out of sight. Now, as someone who goes around wandering cemeteries by themselves, you might guess that I don’t spook easily. But there was something about this…shadow, that just made my skin crawl.
The Dark Spirit of Doral
‘Hello?!’ I called out, walking around to see if whoever it was had lurked behind a tree, waiting to jump out at me. But I couldn’t find anyone. I was seemingly alone.
“ I looked around, and tried to ignore the goosebumps that started to form on my arms. ‘It’s just a shadow from the sun,’ I told myself. ‘Ghosts appear at night, not when things are so cheerful.’
“I turned to face the headstone again, and that’s when I felt the same dark shadow come up to past directly behind me. It was fluid, but it didn’t seem to be moving in any great hurry. The moment it was directly behind me, I swear it sounded like someone sighed, their breath directly on the back of my neck.
“I still offer to photograph graves for people in Doral,” Gene said. “But now I insist that my clients come with me to choose what kind of shots they want. I don’t like to be alone there.”