She alternates between the past tense and the present when talking about him.
They were walking in the park a month ago when he fell over dead. No warning. He just grabbed on to her shoulder, then he was gone.
We’re eating dinner with her in her first attempt to rejoin the world.
The entire meal is seen through his prism. He would’ve loved the pot roast. The apple pie is his favorite. He loved my cooking.
What can you say? Words are so empty. They could never begin to fix the hole in her heart.
So we try to joke. Celebrate. Drink champagne. Something. Anything.
She’s had a long, fascinating life. She was an LPGA-class golfer, which I’m guessing is how they landed in Scottsdale. She’s been friends with our pal Char for a long time. Char was always saying she’d have them over for pot roast. Now here we are, a month too late.
She keeps thanking us for the lifeline. She is so genuinely grateful to be out of the shadows. Still, she glances around now and then, as if she is vaguely expecting her hubby to appear from the next room. He never does.
I desperately didn’t want to come. When Char said she had invited a friend to join us, Mr. Introvert was determined not to meet a stranger. But Mo had made apple pie, and I’ll endure just about anything for pie.
I feel so petty afterward. Such a small gesture meant so much. She hugs us, total strangers, and hugs us again. And then again. She and Mo discover they’re both from a Finnish background and decide they must be relatives. I hope so. She could use another relative.
The evening ends early. It’s all too much for her. Another hug and she heads home to the empty home. Alone.
I’m haunted by her words. It was so easy for him, she said. He just died. And now here I am.
I think back to earlier in the day when Mo and I were grousing over exactly who should put the relish on the hot dogs. Life is so precious. One moment you’re there, the next you’re not. Enjoy every sandwich, Warren Zevon said as he was dying. You just never know.
Mo and I always joke about who’s going to go first. It’s jarring to realize that one day it’s really going to happen.
I promise to cherish you more, Mo.
But I’m not budging on the relish …