Sunday, December 11, 2011

Graveside Revisisted

When I first came here, it was hot. My iPhone overheated laying in the grass by his grave, and my Kindle threatened to die for the same reasons. Despite myself I laughed and laid down in the grass for a moment, spreading my arms to soak up the sun, the rays warming my skin. I've never minded heat. I virtually never burn, and I've always found the the sun relaxing, a natural sauna. I wondered vaguely how far down the heat seeped into the ground, if six feet were enough.

To save the electronics, I retreated to a spot under a nearby tree, borrowing a bench dedicated to another child. The tree by James' grave is too young yet to provide much shade, a spindly thing with less leaves than one of the nearby bushes. Perhaps by the time I join him that will change. I stayed for a long time and read. The jogger came, dragging herself round and round the cemetery in some kind of death march, she parked under a tree to spare her car- but not herself- the worst of the heat.

I still go every week. It's an 80 mile round trip but I've come to find the drive relaxing, even useful for phone calls to catch up with friends or family I otherwise might not call. I give evasive answers when they ask what I'm doing, somehow "going to the cemetery" seems like a macabre response.

It's amazing how much things have changed since I started. There is a slight chill in the air now, the sky is gray and the sun is nowhere to be seen. Unlike my tolerance for heat, I cannot bear the slightest cold, the legacy of a childhood spent in winterless South Louisiana and Houston , so I'm bundled up in a fleece and boots. Rain spits fitfully from the gray crowds in the sky, not enough to soak you, just enough to be annoying. Only one leaf remains on the spindly tree. To a casual observer, there is no sign of the burial apart from the marker. The grass has slowly creeped over the edges of the soil, carefully graded down week after week from the mound it began as. To me, you can still see where the grass isn't as dense as it should be in a few places, how the soil still settles after a rain at a slightly different level than that around it. It's spongier. If you're careful, you can notice that James' grave is shorter than those that have popped up around him. You don't have to dig as long of a hole for a child. The jogger remains, but she's bundled up as well, an oversized hoodie draped over her skeletal figure, oblivious to these elements as well. She's grown her hair out, it's going gray but she's dyed it. She moved her car to a new spot, as there's no need to protect it from the sun. I wonder if she remembers me.

If the weather's decent, I'll read for a while. Otherwise, rain or shine, I'll spend a few minutes thinking of him, of everything that might have been, and everything that was. Each time before I go, I close with his song, "Jamesie the Giraffe."

I sometimes wonder why I still go. I can't change anything there, or anywhere. In the end, I think it's an excuse to mourn, a directional focus for grief. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the why of things- answers are important to me- but this situation does not lend itself to that. So I'm not looking for an answer in Denton. I'm just looking for somewhere to go.

19 comments:

  1. Praying hard for you and your family. Your so strong and a testimony to all!

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  2. You are a beautiful writer, and a beautiful thinker.

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  3. If going to Denton fills that need to go somewhere, then go. Just remember that James is with you wherever you go. Sending loving thoughts your way.

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  4. I enjoy reading your posts and have "almost" replied a few times, but held off. In response to your "I think it's an excuse to mourn,..." my thought was, No, it's not an excuse to mourn, it's an opportunity to mourn!
    As a Papa who lost a grandson to an AT/RT tumor a couple years ago, I sense from a different angle the grief and mourning process.
    God is Good...and His Grace is sufficient!
    Praying for you!

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  5. you go because your heart needs to go. as a bereaved parent myself, i find myself questioning why i also do certain things. it's because our hearts are struggling to find any connection with our children in this world without them. i hate that it has to be this way. and i'm sorry.

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  6. I know it doesn't matter what I think, but I don't think it's weird that you keep going to his gravesite.

    Sometimes I start to wonder if I'm weird for continuing to come read up on how you're doing when I don't actually know you...or to remember your sweet boy I never knew. But I consider it an honor to be able to do so and to pray for you when I remember you. And I know you consider it an honor to remember your son. There is so much to be proud of about him.

    I have this hope that mourning might deepen our soul's holding capacity and thus increase the joy we can be filled with later...and now. I pray that it's true for you.

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  7. i love reading your posts so much - they are raw and inspiring. praying for you all, as always <3

    what rich said, above, is so right.

    i hope kara is doing okay, as well - i havent seen her post in a while. let her know we are thinking about her.

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  8. I like this...."I have this hope that mourning might deepen our soul's holding capacity and thus increase the joy we can be filled with later...and now."

    And I think it is a good way to look at what you are doing. You are doing whatever your soul or self, needs to do, to find your way thru this loss.

    And I keep sending you and Kara all the love and caring I can. So much love happened thru all of this.

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  9. This is was very beautifully written and very touching.

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  10. Your posts are beautiful, but today I came looking for Kara. She hasn't posted in awhile....not that she HAS to, it's just my only connection to your family and well, I'm hooked. Please tell her I'm thinking of her....Mama to Mama.

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  11. Wishing comfort during the holidays to you and Kara. I think of you often!

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