This afternoon was very painful, but a necessary step in the recovery process. After Jesika passed on April 25th, her live-in love Kevin and I had discussed paying a visit to the cemetary in Lemont, IL where she now lays resting peacefully. I had purposely skipped the part of her official funeral where she was lowered into the ground, for reasons I am not yet ready to share. But I always knew I had to go back one day, if only for the closure, the finality. Today was that day.
It is another windy, rainy Spring in Chicago, a setting to match the mood of Kevin and I as we undertook our journey. We met at the apartment he once shared with Jesika, a place I had not returned to since I last spoke to Jesika in person on April 10th. There was nothing much left in the space that Kevin must vacate by June 5th, to remind you that a vibrant, hilarious and energetic woman once lived there. Not for the first time, I found it hard to connect with my friend and her memory inside four walls, whereas she has been very much alive in my mind.
During the long drive to Lemont, Kevin and I told funny stories and shared memories. In particular, I treasure the tale of how he and Jesika finally came to be a couple after years of “will they or won’t they?” friendship. Apparently, they were the Ross and Rachel of Ohio, where they both attended law school. When we arrived at the cemetary however, the weight of our mission began to set in.
I had just come from a series of job interviews, so was not exactly sensibly dressed to wade through a slew of mud puddles, soft and thick after several days worth of spring showers. I wore brand new silver pants, no coat and black spiked heels. Kevin and I, in our unfamiliarity with the place, spent some time looking for the right spot, inspecting a number of headstones before we realized we had passed Jesika’s marker several times already. We both looked at each other and took a moment to recognize that Jesika was somewhere laughing her ass off at the sight of the two of us, in a frenetic downpour, slogging through the mud, me sinking a good five inches with every step, black splatters all over my prized new pants. For a moment, I seriously considered dumping both the shoes as well as the pants. By this time, they were sloshed with rain, just weighing me down. However, I wisely concluded that this was neither the time nor the place to be served with a ticket for public indecency, no matter how hilarious Jesika would have found that as well.
We stood at Jesika’s side as the rain fell along with our tears. Both Kevin and I said what we came to say, supporting each other as we got the words out. I will not share what those words were, as that is private moment that will forever bond Kevin and I. It was awful, painful, emotional and for a few seconds, I wasn’t sure I had the strength to finish what we came to do, but we did. And I am glad. I definitely felt Jesika’s presence, and though the scabs on my heart feel ripped open all over again, the knowledge that there’s a place I can go to spend time with Jesika, to feel her laughter still with me, is of infinite comfort.