As some of you know, I’m in the middle of some significant dates that have to do with my late wife. This morning, something sparked a conversation with her in that half-awake/half-asleep twilight zone, so I’m not certain if I dreamed what follows or concocted it in my own head in wakeful moments. In the end, it doesn’t matter much, does it? The reverie (that’s as good a term as any) began with my awareness of her presence.
“I’ve got a birthday coming up, you know,” she said.
“I know. And we just had another significant date pass. Last month was the seventh anniversary of your—”
“Don’t call that an anniversary. An anniversary is something you celebrate. You don’t celebrate somebody’s death. Or maybe you did! Maybe that was your own personal emancipation day or something.”
“They let you keep your red hair up there, didn’t they?” I sighed, or at least I think I did. "According to Merriam-Webster, an anniversary is something you remember or celebrate. The day I lost you was a significant day for me.”
“I imagine,” she said. “That was the day you realized you’d have to wash your own clothes and cook your own food and keep your own house. How’s that working out?”
“Okay, I guess. Couple of false starts with the clothes. Eat out of the freezer.”
“Out of a cookie jar, most likely.”
“Well, that, too," I admitted.
“Never did understand that one. You ate the sweets, and I got the diabetes.”
I dream-shrugged. “Don’t know what to say.”
“How about the housecleaning thing?
“Don’t want to talk about it." I paused for a minute. “Uh… d-did it hurt?”
“Did what hurt? The diabetes? Have you forgotten already?”
“No, I remember all that. I meant when you… you know, passed. Died.”
“What do you think? Ripping a soul outa one place and shipping it to another.”
“You always were a wienie when it came to pain. To be honest, I don’t remember much about that part of it. Took too much effort to adjust to the new reality. And boy, does it take some adjusting.”
“Tell me about your new reality.”
“I'm not allowed. You’ll just have to wait and find out for yourself. Of course, you might not even end up where I am.”
“Where else would I go?” I dream-saw a flash of undulating red and got a whiff of brimstone. (which is puzzling because I have no idea what brimstone smells like). “Oh,” I said.
“Besides, I’d rather talk about the birthday coming up. It’s March 13, you know.”
“How could I forget? You even named one of our dogs Three-thirteen.”
“Should have named the other one Four-Eight so you’d have remembered our anniversary.”
I didn’t want to rehash the disagreement we’d had over what day our wedding anniversary fell on, (she’d been right, it was the eighth, not the third), do I went back to the birthday. “Just think, in ten more day’s you’d have been—”
“Wow, you still are red-headed, aren’t you? Anyway happy birthday.”
“Thank you. You have any plans to come on up anytime soon?”
My heart lurched so hard the bed shook. “Why, do you know something I don’t?”
“No, we aren’t privy to things like that.” She switched subjects the way she always did. “How are the boys?”
“Don’t you talk to them?”
“They’re all wrapped up in their own lives. They don’t have time to lollygag around and let me in.”
“To answer your question, they’re… well, they’re the boys.”
“Still like that, huh? Well, give them my love.”
I’m not sure that I got to answer her. I blinked my eyes open, and the room came into focus. It was just another day. Although I have to admit, my mood was lighter than it usually is during my “dark quarter,” which is what I call February, March, and April of each year.
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