"Death steals everything except our stories." – Jim Harrison
I’m sitting across from this woman, each of us typing on laptops - typing…typing…typing.
Will that coffee keep you awake tonight?
Not a chance.
She knows this, just as God knows what we need even before we ask.
But there’s love in the asking.
The refrigerator we’ve had too long hums in the corner, the freezing unit occasionally dripping water in the silver cake pan we set on the top shelf beside the milk.
Damned old refrigerator’s gonna peter out one of these days.
She knows I do, but I’ll keep emptying the pan. The white Kenmore, littered with homework and magnets, fits us.
Three small frames in the sill above the sink hold snapshots of children we once had; they’ve now outgrown the frames.
Our baby’s gonna be in second grade next year, J.
I don’t respond, although she knows I heard her.
I can’t, as thinking about that makes my heart hurt.
Portuguese Water Dog! That’s what I was trying to remember!
President can’t even buy an American dog.
Shush. It’s cute.
The Beagle is asleep in the middle of our rug, belly so full of kibble you can almost see it.
Why didn’t they get a Beagle?
I suppose because they wanted a Portuguese Water Dog.
In three months, it’ll be nineteen years.
We didn’t know what the hell those vows meant that June afternoon. But we’re starting to now.
We stood, as Stafford said, children with “faces of promise, places where the scars will be.”
She’ll probably leave later this month for a few days, visit her daddy.
He’s taking chemo, back in Arkansas.
I’ll empty the silver cake pan and feed the Beagle and tend to the children while she’s gone.
We’ll talk every night.
Now you’re coming home tomorrow?
Yes. I can’t wait to see you.
I know this.
But still I ask.