I’m buried all over this house. The golf clubs and my first toolbox, nestled together in the garage. Finger paintings on the walls, underneath just two coats of baby blue. Blankets I spent seventeen years sleeping under, now folded and gathering dust mites in the attic. The Wilson hoody in the hall closet, which hadn’t fit me for three years. You thought I’d trim down some day.
My old room is a mausoleum. Not to me, but you look at the bed like a burial vault. I’ve never seen someone fix the pillows in a burial vault every day like that. Somehow, it suits you. You’re concerned some part of me will be uncomfortable.
Don’t worry, Mom. I wasn’t scattered into the winds over Moosehead Lake. You knew those weren’t me, just like the coffin sitting in Arlington is empty. Those were tokens.
It was an IED. It looked like the kind of paper bag you hide a liquor bottle in, though you don’t see many liquor bottles in that part of Afghanistan. They didn’t tell you that I touched it because the bomb squad was three hours late. I can understand why they wouldn’t.
I’m not in Afghanistan. I was doing things there. Now I’m not. Bits of me are not embedded in the street or plastered against the buildings. I am not camouflaged among bricks and rust, except for the bricks on the back wall of our house. I scraped myself there at four years old, trying to fix the satellite dish. You were right. It was a bad idea. Now there is a bit of me there.
They’ll tell you to grieve. They’ll tell you to let go. I don’t want you to – I can’t imagine why I’d want you to. What balloon wants to drift into the sky? Maybe I’m only here because you won’t let me not be. I don’t think that’s true. But I think it’ll be okay if you have to let me go, because bits of me will always be around you.