I decided to visit James today and check in. I visit often. I made the now familiar drive to Denton and took a book. I spent a few hours there. The spray we put on his casket wilted long ago, beaten down and slowly succumbing totally to the oppressive summer heat. Fresh flowers have a very short half life. I wandered the graves around his, wondering what neighbors we'd made. A boy caddy corner to James died at 13 last year. Today would have been his 14th birthday. Visitors trickled in throughout the evening, complete with Happy Birthday Balloons fastened to the headstone, fluttering in the wind long after the visitors departed. I wonder what a year will bring.
They dug a grave across from James- a service in the morning. Across the street, another baby boy, four months old. Another three person plot, parents on either side. Yet another baby resides a few rows over, a five month old. Their ages remind me how grateful I am for the eight we had. You can identify the children's graves quickly. More clutter- bunny rabbits and animals littering the base of the headstone, rattles and other plastic toys slowly fading in the sun. I spent a little time with each of them, wondering who besides me would visit my boy on summer days in the future, who would wonder at the toys I might bring him. Older teenagers and early twenty-somethings form the next cluster of graves in terms of age, offensive lineman and others with inscriptions alluding to premature deaths and extracurricular activities. Car wrecks perhaps, one cannot tell for sure. No one puts how they died on their headstone. It doesn't matter enough.
I curled up with a book and read some, the time wasted away quicker than I expected, quiet and peaceful as I'd hoped it would be when we first visited. Two trains, a few groundskeepers, and one insane jogger, who must have made long laps around the place for more than an hour. She was rail-thin already, I half expected her to keel over on several occasions. Perhaps she just thought it would be more convenient here.
I am not quite sure why I come so often. Kara is right in that it brings some people more comfort than others. Visiting James' grave is not visiting James. James is gone, he was gone well before he ever made his way to Denton. All that remains is his body, my son left at this world at 3:50 P.M. on July 16. He's not waiting for me in Denton. And yet I go. I go perhaps because it is the only place left in the world dedicated solely to James. He still has his room of course, his things remain untouched. But that's a place dedicated to his life- this is the only place commemorating his loss. Sometimes, I need to spend some time with that. It still seems stunningly unreal, an anomaly that I cannot believe. So I go to his grave to mourn him, because I need convincing that he's gone, that he needs mourning. I linger in the still, quiet space that he rests in and try to find a way to acknowledge that he's actually there, that my son has joined all of those other graves I wrote of before, that we buried him. In many ways it's not for him that I go, indeed, James doesn't need me or anyone anymore, he's undoubtedly found much more exciting people to play with. I'm going because I need to deal with him being gone, and it helps to talk to him about that there. I am not sure if that is the correct answer or the just the right answer for right now. I expect it to change. In a few years, I'm sure I'll agree with Kara and find it sad, which is unquestionably is. I'll go less and know the joggers less well. Right now, I'm just glad I have somewhere to go. As with so many other things, I'll figure out the rest later