I remember sitting on the floor of your bedroom, rummaging through that rusted filing cabinet. “Who’s this?” I ask, holding up sepia.
You, before me.
A whole life I had caught glimpses of in old photographs, love letters, and lines on your cheek, but knew nothing of.
Inspecting old baseball cards from under your bed, click-click-clacking on your typewriter from the steno pool, and studying the mechanics of pocket watches. Relics from a life still lived. Who knew the intersection of two lives would look like a 1975 George Brett card?
I was walking down Spadina when I got the call that you were in the hospital again. I sat down on a park bench, cried, and then continued to my version of the steno pool.
Years earlier, I was laying with you in bed when we got the call that your husband had passed. Neither of us particularly good with words, I held you while you cried, then continued to apply your blush.
You, after him.
In Catholic school, I learned that Saint Joseph is the saint of graceful death. Imagine. A man deathly afraid to die became the patron saint of happy death.
As we stood there praying to a hypocrite, the hospital priest leading your last mass in his extemporary church, I wondered how Joseph could live with himself.
Now every Sunday morning is a painful reminder of the youth you begged me not to wish away.
In my $1,957/month tomb, my phone rings and my boss tells me I got a promotion. I haven’t been to the office in four and a half months.
I suppose the progression of time is like that, though—relentless. Lives are constantly intersecting, then diverging, intersecting, then diverging.
There is an emptiness that I don’t know how to explain to pool parties, my ambition, or my future wife. An emptiness that takes up all 478 square feet of this condo. There’s no room for your George Brett card, old typewriter, or pocket watch. I keep them in the closet—not ready for the divergence.
We made a decision you couldn’t live with. Most nights I wonder if perhaps we can’t, either.
Still, when the seas dried up and the ground began to shake, you were praying amidst the rubble of the church I never sang in, grateful for the relic.
In Catholic school, I learned that desperation will turn anyone into a believer. I hope he takes you dancing every night to prove me wrong.
I walked out of the fluorescent lighting, cried in the ambulance bay, and then answered my phone. “Hi, who’s this?”
Me, after you.