The cemetery unlocks me. Maybe it’s because I’m alone there, and alone in such an open space. There are trees, there is earth, there is sky.
Sometimes in a moment of anguish in a day, I imagine throwing myself on the ground or collapsing into the next friend I see or walking into Gordon’s office, falling to the floor, and sobbing into the leather chair I normally sit in. But those fantasies never come true. I just dream them. The circumstances never line up in the moment I need them to.
But when I go to the cemetery, no matter how possessed I am walking up to Chris’s grave, I am inevitably cracked open. The Anguish, like a spirit, is released.
I went the other morning, the anniversary of Chris’s death. I laid my body on the leaf-strewn sod. There’s something about lying on the earth, especially when it’s cold. I know his body is close, in that pine box. It’s gruesome to imagine, because a year has passed, and after just an hour last year I could see his thirsty skin starting to shrivel in at his temple. Even still it’s a comfort; being on the earth, pressed against it, there’s nearness.
I didn’t have an agenda that morning. Just to be there. But how quickly a particular anguish I hadn’t yet addressed rushed up and through and out of me in surges of accusation. I sobbed into my crossed arms, “What is your plan??!” I raised myself up onto my elbows and screamed: “Do you even HAVE A FUCKING PLAN???” My thin snot made webs between my face and my arms and the leaves on the ground.
What I was saying in that moment was this: For your love, God, will my children have a father? Will my children have a father. Will they.
The truth is that we could not have a better group of men in our lives, each nurturing, each grounding us in particular and beautiful ways. Each providing physical touch and physical strength and spiritual presence. Thanks be to God. But Chris—Jesse’s, Ruthie’s, Andrew’s, and Mary’s father—will always be greater than the sum of these parts. Will my children ever again have a father. Just theirs. For them. And I. Don’t. Know.
The Lord has stolen much from us. He has done it. If he’s allowed it, he’s done it. How will he reimburse what he has taken? Only he knows. Only he knows. I sure as hell don’t. But somehow I still believe there’s more for us—whatever that may look like, however it might unfold, whatever it might entail—a more that I can’t imagine. Somehow, at least consistently enough, I still trust.
The lawn mowing crew showed up. It’s a big, tricky job at a cemetery, I imagine, whipping around all those stones. I stood up and walked back to my car, dry leaves hanging on my green, woolen sweater.