The First Year Passes


Then I realised you were dead. A year later and I’m searching through the ‘Non- Denominational’ section of the cemetery, wedged between the bountiful crops of Catholics who have obediently gone forth and multiplied, the system they use to mark the graves is inefficient and it is the worst treasure hunt I have gone on. I am grateful I am not alone, I am even more grateful I am with someone who knows how to read a map. In all this anonymous death, you are so special to me it seems offensive that you’re here. Maybe I’m selfish but I don’t care that anyone else is dead but you. I am breathless and afraid to be here and pretending to be brave if he notices he’s polite enough to be unaffected enough for both of us.

He asks me if I remember where your grave is. I think about your funeral, my visual memory is my best kind but we were all so strung out on valium and trauma that I only have sections of the day to hold onto. I’m standing there trying to recall landmarks; I remember the mound of dirt next to the hole they would lower you in. Today, it is flat and neat and there are no funerals in this section, I guess. It all looks the same. Template tombs.

I tell him that maybe there was a tree. I don’t tell him that I think I remember this tree because I can hear your grandmother’s wailing and I looked at the shadows of leaves over her face and watched her screaming her lungs out while your first-love heaved sobs by my side. And nothing for me felt real except the knot in my stomach and being sure that I was going to faint. I didn’t.

A year, and the first thing I have to say to you is that you’re a cunt. I have to remain a little bit angry at you, you understand. I’d miss you too much if I didn’t stay mad.

I didn’t tell him at the time but when he says ‘thanks for being a good friend to her’ as he gives us some time together, I realise that you’re dead. And you won’t meet him. Shame, I would’ve liked to know if he was all right. I never had good taste in men, you remember.

I bought you yellow roses because red seemed too dramatic even though I knew you’d like them more but I was secretly mad at you so I still bought yellow. It was petty and I felt bad about it once I got to your grave.

It really felt meaningless being there. It was helpful but there was no meaning for us. I realised again that you were dead when I realised we could no longer make a new memory together. That this was it, that I would just live out the rest of our friendship missing you. And that felt kinda okay. It was something I could make sense of.

I am still surprised by memories of you. Shit, I forgot. Someone in your family left you a Coke in the small cabinet inlaid at the foot of the black marble grave- you have to bend to see it. Coke, candles from a church (orthodox not catholic) and rakia.

After we leave the cemetery and I demand we pull into a servo for smokes, he comes out holding a bottle of Coke and I do not understand why he thought I would want it when he has never seen me drink or order a Coke. I only drink cherry. I don’t even think I said thank you, I think I said, why did you buy me that? It catches me off guard. I see the bottle and I want to tell him you only drink cans, not that it’s for you, I don’t say it cause it seems stupid to tell someone who doesn’t know you facts about you. You only drink cans ‘cause they stay cold’. Jinx. Me and your first-love, we talked about the Coke in the cemetery and remembered how we forgot. And we both said it at the same time, cans ‘cause they stay cold’ and it freaked the shit out of me that you are still existing in this limbo of our collective memory and the smallest things are what makes you know a person not your big actions or big mistakes. I don’t bother remembering all the mistakes. Hey, if you never judged me, I will never judge you.

After a year, I get that you’re dead but I still miss you.

xx SJ




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