i’m not sure whether or not i planned to come to the cemetery, but i should have worn jeans instead of shorts. i brought a coffee. and my phone, just in case. when i come here i always sit with you because you are the only person i know here. the last time i came you were alone.
i can see a train passing by along the cut through the escarpment. it makes me think of that alice munro story, where rose, i think, takes that train and looks out over our sleepy valley town as she is touched (or not) by that strange man. i wonder if she can see me; then i realize that she can’t, not because she is fictitious, but because that was a freight train.
i spent a few minutes talking to you, even though i never really knew you. i’ve talked to you more since you’ve been here than i did when you were alive, because you were so intimidating to me. i told you some jokes, or tried to. i’m so bad at jokes.
i’ll never forget the first time i came here. how we found your grave in the dark, how we searched and searched the rows. then there was a joke about “brown hair tester” and i turned around laughing and there you were. and the light; it was like you led us right here. and then no more laughing, which doesn’t seem right either. and then the bad thing happened and we left and i didn’t come back for a long time. and i had all those nightmares.
you were twenty – no, almost twenty. it was just your birthday. you’d be twenty-eight. on your birthday i was writing a love letter, like an idiot. love takes everything away, because nobody wants to lose anything. nobody wants to sacrifice anything. i’m sure that everyone who loved you has no regret.
it feels very strange to be alive in a cemetery. your cemetery, where you are. this used to be a place to drink, to smoke weed, to trip on shrooms. to do chemical drugs and sleep on the grass as the sun came up. to shortcut home after school, to take the long way around for pickles. i like it a lot better the way it is now. a place to visit you, and to tell you bad jokes and anecdotes. and drink coffee. and be alive, no matter how strange that feels.