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TENSE?

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We went to the cemetery on Saturday. Earlier we went to see Emi’s aunt Judy at the building where they keep all the coffins stacked up like a glossy morgue.  We went and part of me wanted her to cry so I could squeeze her and feel her tears on my cheeks. She had cried over Judy before. Judy was a wonderful aunt who took her to swap meets.  Emi planned that day out the night before, at my Mom’s house.  It was the last day of Christmas break before she drove back to Cal Poly. She was so good at those agendas.  She accounted for sleeping in and her leisurely pace perfectly.  She planned for a 10 am wake up, but didn’t have us run the first errand until noon. The night before when she was planning, as she penciled in a 1:30 visit to the cemetery to visit Judy, she casually asked me if I wanted to visit Tyler. Of course I said sure. I should see his grave anyway.  I hadn’t seen him since before I left on my mission.  I went with Jeff, who had to find is. I can never find his grave on my own. I just remember the hillside he was buried on. Memory told me it was just before the the road split.

 

Emi and I pulled up just before the split. I thought he was about three- five rows up from there.  I walked straight up from the spit and looked at the gravestones starting at the third row.  I checked three graves to the right and walked back three graves to the left.  I did this on the fourth row. And the fifth row.  Then I abandoned my little pattern.  I walked around for a few minutes.  I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to be Aaron at that point. Didn’t need to be. I just wanted to find his grave recall a good memory I hadn’t thought of in a while and hug Emi for a bit and go back to her house and finish packing. Her parents don’t like me.  I need a real job. I need to finish college. I know these places are bullshit and this practice is primitive.  I don’t think it’s absurd to think that we need reminders that the person is no longer living and breathing and walking around with us. I didn’t plan on this, on not finding his grave  I didn’t want to tell my family that I walked around looking for it and have them laugh at how typical that was for me. I don’t want to call my mom. I don’t want to hear her cry about me visiting the grave. Nobody needs to know about this. No hoopla. I didn’t want material for a story, I just wanted to see that grave.  What did my mom have engraved on it?  “Lived in Glory, returned with Honor.”  Some bullshit slogan. I refused to let my anxiety get me. I decided to be calm. I walked way past the part where the road split and walked up and down in columns every two stones so I would be sure to find them.  Emi was way off, way past the road split.  Could I yell back to her?  Can you yell in a cemetery? I can’t yell. She can keep wandering. I’ll find it soon enough. I kept going down the isles. I never found him. Why am I seeing names twice?  Why do I recognize Louis Fielding 1939-2000? Why can’t I just find Tyler’s? I began walking in furiously in serpentine lines. Every minute or so I stopped to look around. If this were a movie the stupid camera would have circled me and my face to show dismay or frustration or helplessness. Why that shot?  Wow?  That’s so amazing?  Where’s the fucking crew?  The fucking director and the best boy and the food table? That shot is so fucking incredible. I can’t fucking believe it.  I’m so fucking impressed with Hollywood. They are the real heroes. My columns were getting choppy. Emi needed to go home to pack. She wasn’t going to get upset with me for this is she?  She’s not allowed, right?  I was looking for Tyler. I never make a big fuss over Tyler. I’m not high maintenance. She came over to me.  We’re way out there. Never been to this part of the cemetery. The tree we were near was definitely too far. I told her I don’t really care for this place. I called my mom. She tells me it’s about 15 feet up from the road right before it splits. She was wrong. Fifteen feet up is the first row. Maybe fifteen feet falls between the first or second. If it was she would say first or second row. That’s what you would remember. It’s really about fifty feet up. Right in the middle of this enormous hill. I could see all those people from my life and how surreal it was. The pretty girls I was afraid to talk to in high school were at my brother’s funeral. I watched them play volleyball. Now they were here. Everyone was here. All three of my mom’s husbands. Every fucking body was fucking there. People I hated and loved. Hundreds of worlds. The Mormons. Tons of Mormons. I was still Mormon back then. I hadn’t gone on a mission. I was wearing the suit that was purchased to be worn on my mission.  I had a small laugh with Jeff when I almost tripped. I stepped on the AstroTurf and slipped down a foot because a hole was dug for the purpose of laying that fucking thing into the ground.  I had a laugh with Jeff and abruptly stopped to ask myself if what I had done was wrong?  I was allowed a laugh right?  This was my brother, right?  Do these people think I’m heartless?  I can have a laugh.  I’m allowed. 

 A older lady approached us.  She was Asian and had broken English.  She could tell I couldn’t find the grave I was looking for.  She asked for his name. Tyler Litchfield. 

 We got in Emi’s car. Right after we exited the cemetery, I told her to pull over.  She asked why, then she saw the tears. I threw myself across the seat and wrapped my arm around her neck and I told her that he wanted me to play baseball. He was so mad when he found out I didn’t try out my junior year. I told him I wasn’t good enough and he told me I was full of shit. Junior year you have to make varsity. The previous two years I got cut from JV. He told me to have some damn confidence. He played catch with me and he got furious when he could tell I was taking it easy on him.  I threw a hard one and it hit him in the neck. That was so scary. I wondered for a second if I broke something. It hit him in the neck and he just went inside. I asked him if he was mad at me. He told me to shut up.

 

 

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