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.

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.
His graduation cap.
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.

18 thoughts on “Basement

  1. I am a fellow traveler on the road of grief. Not as awful as yours, but hard for me. I have been reading your posts for several months. There doesn’t seem to be anyone I can scream at about my loss. And I do want to scream. Sometimes I feel like there is no reason to pray—that my prayers are not answered. I have always been a strong believer, but lately I question my faith. I do find comfort in reading your writings and knowing I am not alone.

  2. Thank you for sharing that Les, I read every word. I thought that if it was difficult for me to read, I can’t imagine what it was like to have lived it and to write about it.

  3. So well written. We lost our son 4 years ago. I hate going to the cometary, but I do. I feel that I am needed to keep everything tidy. The road of grief is a mean and long one. Something that will be with us as long as we live. My prayers will include you and your family from now on.

    • Thank you, Judy. You are ahead of me on this road of grief–I appreciate your reading and commenting. And, I am very sorry for your loss!

  4. Les, I’m so very, very sorry. Sometimes there just are no words to say that will help, and this is one of those times. What has happened in your life to those you love is beyond our human understanding. It makes no sense. It was wrong. It was unfair. And, it will never be okay or right. Never. The pain eventually becomes more gentle, but never “okay” in the sense that we can say we see the meaning of it all. There will never be any reasonable meaning to the horrendous wrongs that were committed. And, so we’re left in the ashes and work hard every day to dig ourselves out enough that we can find a bit of joy to cling to — a bit of hope to hang on to when our world seems like it’s spiraling to the depths of hell.

    It was wrong — all so wrong. And, you have earned that right to be angry, bitterly sad, and mournful. Please know that lots and lots of friends are holding you close in thought and prayer and will not let you go. Keep writing — every time you do you dilute the power of this agony that is holding such a tight grip on you. There will be a day when you will go to the cemetery and speak to your loved ones. You will talk to them — and you will know that they are at rest and that will give you some peace. The day will come sometime far into the future when you will look at those footlockers and remember the lives that were connected to those special mementos inside and you will smile through your tears. Precious memories will bring you comfort.

    For today, let your friends hold you up when you’re too weak to stand. Let us dry your tears when they fall like torrents of rain. Let us listen when you empty your soul of its thoughts and pain.

    Very special prayers are being said for you right now. And, those prayers will continue daily.
    Sincerely, Clara (Jimmy’s mom)

  5. Les…. beautifully written and I’m sure so many can understand, unfortunately what you are talking about…. of course, saying it’s beautiful is probably like throwing salt on your wound and for that I am sorry….. your writing draws us, or at least me, to feel raw heartache…. or joy, depending on what you are writing…. today it was a hard one to read, yet… well, thank you for sharing, as you do.

  6. Sorry. So very sorry. My heart can only hold you and your family close, and up before our God, praying for some comfort and peace to make a path to you door.
    Keep sharing… so many are directing love and concern to you and the family.

  7. I hate cemeteries too. I buried my 53 year old husband at one here in West Monroe, La. I love reading your work Les. Thank you for sharing your deepest, if even darkest at times, thoughts and feelings with us. You are blessed to be able to put these to paper. That’s a gift that I’m glad you share with us. Be blessed Les and keep writing.

    • Thank you, Starla! I am sorry for your grief. Life is hard and sometimes harder still. I was so overwhelmed by the reception we had at WFR. Very blessed to be there! Thank you for reading and commenting!

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