Nine weeks ago…there was a future, full of plans big and small. Plans for the twilight years. Plans for New Year’s celebrations with dear friends.
Eight weeks ago…a small pain. A doctor visit.
Seven weeks ago…news. Very bad news. The worst.
The next handful of weeks…a blur. Action, sadness, urgent gathering, disbelief, pain.
Best Mate delivers a man the paper every morning and sits with him, bringing his Old Pal cheer. He’s the only one allowed to see. Weeks ago, in grave danger, Best Mate had life-saving surgery. Concerned, Old Pal came to his hospital bedside daily, to crack jokes and ensure his Best Mate rallied.
Best Mate fully recovered. Now this.
“I wonder who’ll be at my funeral?” asks bedridden Old Pal.
“I’ll take a rollcall and pop a note in your box, shall I?” answers Best Mate.
The sore man still manages a laugh. “You old bastard.”
One week ago…devastation. Mirrors covered. Ceremonies. Best Mate’s speech.
Last weekend…the house was bursting with all the people. Respects paid.
Last night…I stood in a kitchen with a woman who keeps her hands busy. Precious happy faces smile down at us from the fridge and walls. We spoke about trees. She loves trees. Her garden is full of the things he planted, the world full of things he did for others. He is everywhere, but nowhere.
Today…the house is quiet. Too quiet. She is alone, and the bed’s too big.
There will be no Happy New Year.
Stricken, she still doesn’t know how to cry.