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.