aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

How can someone so present be absent?

Do you remember that book, The Brief History of the Dead, that had the gorgeous cover?

In the book, if you die, you go to a second place, where you stay until everyone on Earth who remembers you, even a little bit, dies.

I felt like that today. I ran into an old acquaintance, someone I've known for 15 years. I haven't seen him for three or four years, ever since he and his wife switched gyms.

We were delighted to run into each other at the post office. We started by talking about the gym, and he said what a great place it was for kids. He and his wife married late, and she got pregnant in her early 40s, to their surprise and joy. But then at five months, something went wrong.

So today I thought he was saying the gym was a great place for _their_ kids. I said, "Oh, that's great, so you and Mary have kids now?" Adoption, I was thinking, although I knew she had also wanted to try again.

His eyes opened wide. "April," he said, "Mary's dead. She's been dead for a year and a half."

Brain cancer. They celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary in a hospital, their eighth with her in a hospital bed at home in hospice.

Mary had waist-length strawberry blond hair, freckles, a smile that made you smile, too. How can she be dead when she has been alive all this time in my memory?

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