All of His Funerals

Fox Mulder died on a Wednesday, and I will never forgive it.

I have already forgiven him.

I forgave him long ago, while he was still breathing.

The first time. Or the second. I don't remember exactly.

He didn't believe me when I said I was sorry.

I apologized, and that was like forgiving him, but he still didn't believe.

Even as the skin on my cheeks tightened from my salt-water tears, he didn't believe.

He had never seen me cry. He had watched my face crumple, but he had never seen me cry. I did that when he wasn't looking.

I know he's not looking now. So it's safe to cry.

How many times did I need to bury him? How many times would he continue to die?

I know the answer. He will die as many times as I have left in me to bury him.

I have each of his funerals memorized. Perhaps there will come a time when I won't even need to go. I could bypass the gladiolas, the lilies, the sympathy.

That would just leave the waiting. It would just leave the tightness in my throat each morning I woke up that he was still dead. Each day I lived without him he died a little more.

He was no coward, Fox Mulder, but he died those thousand deaths all the same.

He had his reasons.

He gave each death all the weight of the last. One was never better than another. They were all real to him. All very important.

I, in turn, grieved each one the same. There was always the chance it would be his last. I never knew for certain. It was not my place to know.

I had died once or twice, but never with the same fervor or talent of Mulder. I did not have the dedication to die like my partner did --repeatedly, easily, completely.

Dying was not what I did best. I waited instead. The years have taught me that much.

I waited while they searched for the bodies. If they had to look, they would not find. Mulder was a Houdini even in death. No boxes for him. No handcuffs.

I waited while they rolled him out on metal trays in sterile basements. I waited to see his face. Was it his? Was it ever his? By that time, everyone looked like him; my nods meant nothing.

I waited with his mother. I waited while she waited. I let her blame me. Over and over I was blamed. Blamed for things I did not do. I let her. Over and over I let her. Better me than him. Always better me.

I had grown at waiting. I now excel in waiting.

He is dead again. He has his plot of land. I visit it like a pilgrim. I ignore the looks when I lean over to put a sunflower on his grave.

He knows why. That is all that matters.

These people don't know anything about waiting. They plant their coffins, and the grass grows back over them. I plant coffins, and they grow. I am successful at this. I grow and harvest death. What I plant does not stay dead.

I am a farmer.

A farmer waits.

My partner depends on me to be here, to be waiting.

Waiting for his return.

So that is what I do. I wait.

We have never spoken about this. It's just something we do. It's part of our routine, of our agreement.

We know, and that is enough.

I stand here, and he stands there. I can't see him where I am.

I stand like a mute banshee at his grave. I do not speak of death. Death is not real. Death is but a passing phase, and one of us will soon grow out of it.

I am the only one that stands here in front of his grave, Fox Mulder, the man who made dying his art. I was his canvas.

Will they tell me when he's finally dead? Will there come a day when the grass has covered his coffin, and I'm the only one still hanging on?

Will they stop my waiting?

I've played their games for countless years. Will they give me the courtesy of knowing?

Or is there is a chance I will go to my own funeral, still waiting for his return? Dying and yet still waiting....

I remember my father's funeral, remember his ashes being blown out to his sea.

I remember William Mulder's funeral, remember standing in a cemetery for the first time with that man-shaped emptiness at my side.

I remember my sister's funeral, remember the way there was no sun that day.

And I remember Mulder's funerals. All of them.