It arrived in the mail this morning. A hand written note, a list of things entitled “Things to do Today”. I recognized the hand writing, I smiled a little and then my heart sank. It was a romantic gesture, one that deserved honoring I guess. So instead of putting the note on the side table and forgetting it, another memento from him, I got dressed, I got into the car we used to share and I did the first thing on the list.
- To Piggots for Saturday Breakfast.
The road is clear in the early morning and the chill in the air affords me the ability to drive with the windows down. The morning mist condensing on the windscreen and the fresh grassy smell of due hits me head on the whole way. All 20 minutes of the drive. It was refreshing.
And the steaming hot carton of maw in sauce and fresh blood pudding wasn’t bad either. he had already paid and the small homely woman behind the counter was more than pleasant handing over the food. She had no idea, so I returned her smile and returned to the car. Next item.
2. Look out.
This is what we would have done together, after picking up our bounty. Driven up to look out, eaten the pudding with our fingers while sipping the maw concoction. We would talk about whatever and/or watch the waves crash against the jetty. Watch the families that came to fish and maybe take a walk up the pier to see what the catch was like. I fell asleep remembering, lost in the memory. When I woke it was with a start, and I turned to see him in the seat beside me, but he wasn’t there and then I remembered the list.
3. Longfords for lunch.
The lady at my favorite BBQ stand always greets me with a smile, and today is no exception. This time when she smiled it was with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. She passed me a foil wrapped packet filled with her succulent ribs, and two freshly fried bakes, it’s my usual already paid of by him. But with it she also passes me a flash drive, that says “Listen to me” Our exchange was short and polite, and she wishes me a happy birthday and sends me on my way with greetings to convey to him.
In the car I sit and listen to the recorded message.
“Hey babe. Enjoying your day so far? Sorry I’m not with you, but I’ll catch up with you later. Oh and I left something in the glove box for you. Do the next thing, open the box, and chill. Love you.”
4. Fort James.
Another drive, this one not too far. I found a tree on the east side of the little peninsula to park under, to protect myself from the 1:00 sun, and turn to the glove box. Sure as the sun is hot, there’s a box inside. I grabbed it and ripped the brown paper right off, and inside is the book I had been eyeing in the book store the last few weeks.
I smiled ruefully and settled in. Not long into the first chapter when there’s a knock at the window. The man standing there nearly frightens me out of my skin. But he offers me a bucket of cold Wadadli beers and ice, wishes me a blessed day, assures me that it’s been all taken care of then saunters off, back down the road to the little beach bar across the way. He had thought of everything. He had set this all up ahead of time.
By the time I had finished trying to distract myself with words and the sunset, or finally drowning my sorry in cold beer, the sand flies had started to bite. Time to get on my way. The last item simply read…
He had planned to meet me at home, no doubt with a movie on the netflix, or a warm bath and some hot loving. But when I opened the door the house was as empty as I left it. He wasn’t there, he would never be there again. How were we to know that when he got up to relieve himself Saturday night two weeks back, that an intruder would have found his way in. How were we to know that a shot would fill the night with horror, as my love surprised a thief in our own home. How would we have known that the bullet would puncture a lung and that a 4 car accident on the outskirts of town would have had all the ambulances on our tiny paradise all tied up, just a few minutes too long to save his life.
He had not known when he made this list, that he would die in my arms. That I would stare for hours at his corpse not letting nurse or undertaker come near. That I would spend the next few days giving statements, and hating the man who had invaded my home and stolen him from me.
He hadn’t known that the day after the list was executed, I would be burying him, that it would be his final farewell to the women who loved him not so well, and did not appreciate someone taken from her so soon. I settled on the bed we would have shared and cried into the list that he had sent in the mail, the one that had arrived the day before I said goodbye.