Currently, most of Boris’s ashes are interred in a cemetery in Atlanta. I did not think this was something Boris would have wanted at the time, especially considering the hefty price tag. He was too practical and untraditional. However, his mom wanted to have a place to go visit him and she wanted that for me, too. When his mom mentioned wanting this, she asked me what cemetery would be the best. I was not very familiar with many cemeteries in Atlanta, however, I attended a Jewish graveside service about a year prior to that and I remembered there was an incredible view of the city. After some google searches, we discovered which cemetery it was and we arranged a visit. There were a couple of options for the location of his ashes, but one of them was up on a hill with a view of the city and of large, beautiful trees in the cemetery. We decided it was a perfect spot. From there, you could see downtown, which is where Boris spent a lot of his adult years as a student at Georgia State. You could also see the building that I was currently working in and the building that his sister was working in, so it was sort of like he was watching over us.
Boris’s sister paid for and owns the “plot”, but she asked for my input for the engraving. I was honored to be asked but felt so much pressure to decide what to put on it. If Boris had his way, it would say something like, “BAMF (Bad Ass Mother Fucker)” or a line from Super Troopers or another outrageous movie that he could quote. I was looking through old photos, notes, and cards and found this quote Boris had written to me in a scrapbook: Never shall I forget the days I have spent with you (Ludwig van Beethoven). I thought it was perfect.
Since then, I have visited the cemetery at least 2-3 times per month, sometimes every weekend. When the weather is nice, I go for long walks there–it is a huge place with lots of beautiful trees and full of history. Sometimes I meet close friends there for walks, too. Most of my visits, I bring a fresh flower and a stone and place it on top. After almost 3 years, I am glad that there is a place like this to visit him. I still think that he would have balked at the cost and how traditional it seems, but I also think he would find it beautiful and peaceful.
This weekend when I visited, I did not have much time so I went for a short stroll. I listened to songs that Boris liked and I left him a fresh tulip. I noticed the beauty of a giant magnolia tree and appreciated the sun on my face, after the rainy and cold days we’d had before it. I was only there maybe 20 minutes, but it was enough time for me to reconnect and ground myself from a busy week.
I know that Boris isn’t really there—in those ashes in a box inside of a stone wall. I know that he is not more present there than in my room or in my car. But, being there allows me to feel like I am purposefully checking in with him and with myself. Sometimes, I go and have no emotions–I listen to music he wouldn’t like or I scroll through Instagram during my walk. Other times I am sobbing and sitting in disbelief that I am visiting him in a cemetery. But, I love having a place to visit. I love the act of “caring” for him by bringing a flower or a stone. I am glad that his mom wanted this for him, even though I did not. Looking back, I am so happy we were able to pick such a lovely spot even in the midst of our trauma and raw grief.
Often I wonder if Boris is at peace with his “condo” in Atlanta (I like to call it that…sounds very fancy). I hope he likes seeing the seasons change in the trees, seeing the skyline at night, and visits from his loved ones. I wonder about all of the dogs he sees playing in the large grassy area or the various birds and other creatures roaming when no humans are there. I bet he’s seen teenagers drinking or smoking pot late at night. Mostly, I hope he appreciates my visits, even if he finds it ridiculous that I feel connected to him there.