Finding Roy …

July 6, 2009

I’ve written before about one of my best friends in high school, Roy.  He killed himself when we were in high school by tying a trash bag over his head and filling it with insecticide.  I think of him fairly often, and every few years I’ll have a dream and he will be in it.  And parts of him have appeared in a few stories now and again.

Of late,  it became important for me to find his grave site, although I’m not sure why.  I’d thought about it often enough over the years, but had never did anything about it.   I had only gone to the visitation, and not to the funeral or cemetery.  I wasn’t even sure where it was.  I thought I did, but recently discovered I didn’t after all, and it took a while to find it.   It’s frightening how badly records are kept on a municipal and county level.   At one point I considered trying to contact Stanley, Roy’s older brother.

Eventually – last Friday, actually – I found where Roy was buried.  It turns out it is in a cemetery about 5 miles away, in a small, rural hamlet.  Ironically, I had passed the cemetery dozens of times for years when my aunt and uncle lived in the area.

I visited the cemetery Sunday.  It’s small, but full of local names I recognize.

It  turns out that if I’d found Roy’s brother, I would have also found Roy.  They are buried within yards of one another.   I was shocked to find Stanley’s brass military marker.  He died in 2005, and is buried next to his and Roy’s father, who died in 2003.

I wondered if Roy was buried there but without a headstone.  The thought bothered me.  I walked around the cemetery, and then, about three rows away, I found Roy’s headstone.   He is buried where his father was originally supposed to be, I imagine.

Roy is buried to the left of the grandmother he lived with when I knew him.  I never knew her name until now.  She died in ’93, and is buried next to her husband, who passed away a year after Roy was born.

Roy’s full name is not listed.  The marker has just plain “Roy.”  Beneath the dates of his birth and death in 1976 is the inscription, “A Loving Grandson.”

It’s an odd feeling to find him again after 33 years.  I don’t make a big deal out of death, usually, and in this case, the discovery of the grave is almost anti-climatic.

It was a touch of melancholy, but mixed with a sense of relief really, finding him after all this time.

I didn’t stay long.  But I know I’ll go back to see him sometime soon.  He’s an old friend, after all.


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