The house is exponentially quieter: the doorbell used to ring so often that we were tempted to crush it with a baseball bat. We'd open the door and inevitably it would be one of Aidan's friends from the neighborhood. "He can't come out right now," we'd tell the kid. "He'll be out in an hour." Ten minutes later the doorbell would ring again; this time it was the brother of the previous ringer, or another kid.
"He can't come out right now," we'd say--only this time, with a bit of an edge. "He'll be out in an hour. Don't ring the bell again." Five minutes later, it would ring again. "AAARRGH!" we'd all agree. Apparently, they didn't pass the word along.
Now the doorbell doesn't ring at all. (C. Peevie's friends usually just let themselves in.) And the basement is often dark and quiet--no shouting at Madden NFL, no Mario Kart races, not even much ping-pong. We don't have to navigate around six extra pairs of gym shoes when we walk in the front door. Almost every day four boys would huddle on the front stoop around stacks of Pokemon cards, analyzing, trading, and battling; now the stoop is just a stoop.
Everything is easier now. There are no middle-of-the-night conversations about death or tachycardia or the meaning of life; there is never a bony boy crammed in bed next to me, seeking comfort from a terrifying nightmare.
I had just started to look into classes and options for the next home school semester, but now there are no home school logistics to arrange. Aidan had started to get the hang of taking CTA buses to X-Mom's house for his weekly science class with her precocious son Big L. He'd take the 86/Narragansett bus to Irving Park, and then hop the 80/Irving Park west to Pioneer Court. But his other routes gave him ulcers. He tried bravely to navigate two buses and two trains to get to his co-op classes in Skokie and Evanston--but with CTA stations closed for construction, and city streets closed for repairs, the route changed every week. He'd call or text us for technical and emotional support every time.
Now Aidan is buried in the cemetery that stretches along that Irving Park route, right by his stop at Pioneer Court, in a section of Acacia Cemetery called West Portal. It sounds like a place he might have invented for one of his stories or fantasy card games. "This card will transport your character to West Portal, where you can visit the mage and regain your spells," he might have said.
Everything is easier now. We hardly ever see any "ologists" any more: our orthodontist and pediatrician appointments are down by a third; our dentist and optomotrist appointments down by a fifth. No cardiologist, no endocrinologist, no electrophysiologist, no neurologist. I don't remind anyone to take their meds every day; I don't make trips to Walgreens for prescription refills other than my own.
Everything is easier now. The toilets, formerly obstructed every three days with ordure of epic proportions, never need to be plunged. There are no skinny-man boxers with skid-marks mouldering on the floor of the shower.
Everything is easier, but nothing is as it should be.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one;pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.;For nothing now can ever come to any good.
--W.H. Auden, Funeral Blues, 1938