The Next Room

at 12:35 AM

I visited my grandparents’ grave one Saturday. They're buried in Lafayette -- my grandmother joked it was probably the only time she would own property in that suburb. It rained that morning, but the sun was trying to come out. I brushed away the stray grass off their stone. I looked at their grave, thinking about time passing. They’ve been gone for years. I’d just finished Emily Rapp’s memoir which details her son’s dying from Tay-Sachs. She decided when he died she wanted to think of him in the next room. Not physically there, but a presence. I loved that image. I only wished it was physically possible.

After a while I walked around the cemetery. In the distance I heard squawking turkeys. A rainbow was emerging in the sky. A man walked over to where I was. He'd been visiting a nearby grave.

"Do you have a pen?” he asked.

“Not on me. Sorry.”

He headed towards the office. I watched him walk across the grass. I looked at the grave he’d been visiting. It was for a girl born in 1968, died in 1984. Sixteen. What was their story? Brother or sister? Boyfriend or girlfriend? There was a faded oval picture on the grave. She had the '70s-'80s feathered hair, blue eye shadow.

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I felt like I was intruding, so I walked towards the parking lot. The man came back and crouched on the grass, writing something down. I wanted to tell him "She’s in the next room."

Maybe he already knew.

With a Perspective, I'm Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons.

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Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is a writer living in Lafayette.

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