The Bun loves graveyards. I have been sitting here trying to think of an explanation so I can put it here, where this sentence is sitting.
But I don't have one. Not really. I could guess, I suppose. I think it has something to do with how he can't say goodbye.
"Please," he begs. "I'll give you 50,000 kisses. I'll give you ten dollars."
So we go.
It's so cold and I have the flu and barely feel above-ground myself. Every once in a while, a strange jerking pain in my chest and I think maybe I am not the right person to be, right now, walking around in a graveyard. The irony, oh, the irony. Shiver, shiver. This damn flu.
The Birdy plays hide and seek with herself behind the markers. She climbs the cross of a baby who died in 1898. I think about the baby's parents, choosing the marble, and I'm sad. Parents were still parents in 1898. The marker reads: "Innocent".
"Don't PLAY on the dead people," shouts The Bun.
"Oh", says The Birdy. She looks down at the grass under her feet. "It's OK!" she says. "They aren't here."
"Yes, they are," says The Bun.
"OK," she shrugs, and starts her game again, further away. The Birdy isn't afraid of anything, especially not of a few hundred ghosts. Or her brother.
The Bun has brought a clipboard and some lined paper, which he made especially. It is my job to write down the names from the graves he selects. He chooses seriously and carefully and gradually we fill five pages of lines. My hand is freezing, my fingers are numb.
"Are we done?" I say. "What is this for, anyway?"
"For remembering," he says, in a voice that suggests that maybe I'm very stupid.
Which sometimes I am.
"But you didn't even know these people," I say.
"They still need to be remembered," he says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world.
Some things don't need to be remembered. Some people. Yet the ones you'd like most to forget are the ones who stick the most firmly, lodged in your daily consciousness like rats in sticky traps. The ghosts of living people are the ones who never, ever, ever leave you alone.
They are the scary ones.
The Bun keeps the catalogue of names beside his bed.
Read it, he says. So I do.
It's sad and definitely a little strange, but also it isn't. In a way, it's the most normal thing in the world -- to hold on to what (and who) is lost.
In that way, it feels a lot like love.