Basement

I think five times.

Just five.

I have visited five times.

I have this strange urge to go now, but three and a half hours is a long way to travel for a visit that has never quite lasted even ten minutes.

I am not a fan of cemeteries. They are not places of peace. They don’t engender moments of quiet reflection. They don’t inspire sweet memories.

They do, however, spark moments of rage and anger. They do inspire transcendental and irrational thoughts. They do bring a fresh feeling of horror and pain. Of disbelief and incomprehensibleness.

I don’t like cemeteries.
Especially this one.

Especially this one.

Maybe there will come a time in our journey where I can visit. Say hello. Or spend a quiet afternoon. But not now. And knowing me the way I do, quite possibly never.

It is hard to write of these things. There is renewed grief. And an aching in my chest and tears in my eyes that make it difficult to say anything of much sense or value. At 8:00AM on a Saturday morning as I write this, I am already exhausted.

So much has happened since the first day we traveled in the company of hundreds of others to that particular cemetery. So many changes.

Casey is growing up fast and missing his front teeth.
Conner is a Junior in High School, talking about colleges, and becoming this new man-child I hardly recognize.

So many changes. But one remains. I still don’t like cemeteries.

I don’t go there, but I do go to our basement.
Reluctantly.

Outside of October 10, 2011 and the subsequent funeral services and burials, the hardest days of my life were watching my mother and sisters pack up Karen’s clothes and things and the day I finally emptied Cole’s bedroom in preparation to move.

We boxed up some items for the boys when they are older. They will each have some jewelry, dishes, keepsakes, etc. Things they can look at, use, and remember. Or at least in Casey’s life, he can hold something tangible that once belonged to his mother.

Do you get the inherent unfairness of what I just wrote?

In my basement are stored things for their future lives to help them remember what must seem like a distant memory even now.

And I want to rage at the senselessness of it all.

In my basement are two footlockers once owned by a former neighbor. Those footlockers traveled all over the world on various US Navy Sea Bee deployments. These days they see no travel at all.

None whatsoever.

I hate going to the basement.
For anything.

We store lots of stuff there. Things that are helpful. Things that are seasonal. So sometimes we go there to bring up and out those things we might need for the occasion.

I hate going to the basement.
When I do, I am always drawn to those two green and battered footlockers.
Cole no longer has a bedroom to store his earthly treasures, so I store them there.

His Sea Wolves hockey poster.
His favorite CD’s.
Hats.
Balls.
His graduation cap.
Books.
Stuff that he surrounded himself with.
And Brett Farve memorabilia.

Going to the basement is hard.
Opening those footlockers is an agony all its own.

As it turns out, basements and cemeteries have a lot in common.
At least for me.

At least for me.

For those who are hurting and grieving, know we are fellow travelers. May our hearts be healed. May our painful places be less so.

Thank you for reading.

Les Ferguson, Jr.