At some point, I have to stop calling these daily updates. At some point, daily is not my situation with James. I do not see him everyday. I do not hear him everyday. I do not play with him everyday. Right now, he's at a funeral home somewhere. I don't even know where. The hospice people suggested a funeral home and I took it. I didn't have time to comparison shop. I thought we'd had the upcoming week to plan, to mobilize, and to prepare. But as with everything on this journey, things simply happened much more quickly than we ever anticipated. The oncologist were ok with starting chemo on Monday. We didn't even make it through the weekend. I suppose I'll write this day as I did the first day. In many ways, the day James got sick and today each mark the beginning of new chapters in my life.
8:30 A.M.: I wake up. Somehow, I'm surprised. Part of me always expected God to take me up on my offer to trade places with James. I lay in the bed staring at the ceiling for an hour. The patterns are more intricate than I remembered. I wonder about James' view from his crib- always lying flat on his back. At least he always started that way.
9:30 AM: I shower. I cannot get the smell of yesterday off of me, no matter how hard I scrub. It's in the pores.
10:00 AM: I make my way out to the living room. One of James' toys, his singing puppy, randomly goes off. We always called it the zombie puppy. Part of me wants to throw it against the wall. The other part wants to fall on the floor and cry.
10:30 AM: Kara and I form a vague plan to go and look at cemeteries. Neither of our families are from Dallas, and we need a place to bury our son. More importantly, we need something to do other than sit in the house and wait.
11:00 AM: We visit the first cemetery. It is surrounded by strip clubs and warehouses. They haven't mowed, and the artificial pond in the front is dry and sad. I am not burying my son here.
11:20 AM: The second cemetery. No fence, and I have to drive past a schoolyard filled with children playing soccer to get there. It shouldn't make a bad first impression but it does. It's more quaint, but too random. Not here, either.
11:50: The third cemetery. Still no fence or shrubs, placed in the middle of a subdivision in the suburbs- two cemeteries actually, one an outgrowth from the original. There is a baby's grave we pass. She was two years old. That seems like lifetime to me.
12:20: The fourth cemetery. Kara's cousin, who drowned at two and a half, is buried there. Her aunt, uncle, and grandparents will be. It is in the country, near Denton. The road to it reminds us of the roads we lived on in Waco- winding and country, horses and imposing houses squatted on two acre tracts surrounding it. It is quiet and calm, peaceful. It is, unlike so many others, a possibility. There is a babyland, just for babies. It's full. I cry just looking at the tiny monuments. We decide we want three plots, wherever we go. One for each of us.
1:45: We visit the Fifth Cemetery. The director/salesman wants to sell us a family plot for 200,000. At the very least, will we consider a flat, not upright, space for 9,950? There is a special on a 6-seater for 79,000. I want to throw him out of then back up over him on the tour.
2:30: Lunch with the family. Campisi's Dallas. I wonder if James would have liked Sicilian, Roman, or Neapolitan pizza. I have so many questions like that. I have no answers.
3:00: We meet with the minister to discuss James' service. They are immensely accommodating, as they have been throughout. We are truly blessed by their support- both during James illness and now. We discuss his service. I find it hard to participate meaningfully, trying to interject what I feel is appropriate, though I have no idea what that means.
4:00: The minister gave us the names of more cemeteries. We're off.
4:30: Cemetery six looks more like a park than anything else. A few benches here and there and garden signs- they all insist on calling them gardens, not graves- indicate that the dead reside here. I suppose it's an option.
5:00: A cemetery in uptown, old and mildly gothic. The kindly old man locking the gates informs us that plots will be given only to those with family already there, or those who can find two plot owners to vouch for them. What does it mean to vouch for a cemetery plot? I feel like I'm interviewing at some sort of bizarre coop board. The kindly old man feels bad for us. He gives us the name of someone to make it happen.
5:45: Cemetery number eight. It's like the combination of all of them- it's weird. Somewhere in the middle of them all. Which makes it not quite right for anything. The tour is a Buick LeSabre, just like the one my grandmother once drove. I wonder how she James, and my grandfather James are getting along.
6:30: Home again. I go to James' room and sit there for a long time. I have no idea what I am going to do here.
8:30: Dinner from Keller's. I should stop eating. I just need something to do.
And now I'm writing. I'm missing parts. I'm missing everything. I know James is fine now. He's healed, better, tossing balls at unsuspecting passerby and laughing when he gets a hit. I just miss the boy.
Thank all of you for your support. It has been tremendously affirming to see how James has touched the world. Your prayers are with us.