67. pirates, foil, needle, turpentine, wigs, garden gnome
I filled my coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream before taking a cookie out of a foil packet. Breakfast of champions. I checked the can of turpentine before picking up a paint brush. The oil/sediment had settled below the screen. It could still be used to clean my brushes. I hesitated, wishing I had something else to do with my time. I remembered I agreed to go to a ceramics painting class this evening with a female friend. Ha. A miniature garden gnome. Can’t wait. I’m not sure how I allowed her to convince me into such an atrocity.
I am suddenly aware of my own grumpiness and chastise myself. It’s no wonder I have an unfulfilled life. A negative attitude never helped anyone acquire happiness. I looked at the painting I started the previous day while sipping my coffee. Today there would be no painting. This attitude was uninspiring. Maybe I would make some progress on cleaning out Sarah’s “studio.” I have already donated her clothes. But the crafts: half-finished, half-started, and some not yet imagined. Every time I entered that room I felt like a pirate set out to pillage and destroy her soul. This would require more alcohol. Pirates drank rum. It would only be appropriate to drink rum and pineapple juice.
After finished my coffee and pouring a glass of rum and pineapple juice, I decided it was time to weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen. This mission must begin. I had procrastinated long enough. Once I made it to the top of the stairs, opening the door was easy. The sight of her wigs drained my eyes. Three mannequin heads each wore one wig with a hand-made hat. I sat on the chair. For the first time, I noticed a set of double-pointed knitting needles that contained an unfinished hat. I can’t believe this pain is still so raw. When I picked up the nearly complete at, I noticed a piece of paper inside.
“My dearest love,
Today you brought me breakfast in bed. I felt better than I have in weeks and you took me to sit by the lake. We watched a movie and cuddled on the couch, but I failed at some of that because I was knitting this hat for Lucy’s baby. It is days like today that have made life worth living. Thank you for showing your love in simple ways.”
I instantly realized I would find notes stashed among all of her art supplies and unfinished projects. I lifted the hat off of the nearest mannequin.
“Do you remember the day you got your guitar? You leaned against the wall in your apartment. You smiled and said this was your new goal – a way to occupy your free time. That was the first moment I realized I was absolutely positively in love with you. I was wearing this hat. I had just finished making it and felt beautiful wearing it that evening. I believe that is also the night we got a little distracted and had to order in Chinese because we burned dinner.”
Tears poured down my face, but I was laughing at the memory of the burned dinner. We had only been together about a month when I ordered that guitar. I had no idea she knew she loved me. I still thought I had to work to capture her interest.
I lifted the second hat. Under it lay a tiny glass bottle with a little piece of paper. It was sealed with an itty-bitty cork that had a crocheted flower on it. I knew what was inside. I opened it an unrolled the paper. There would be two quotes. The day after our first fight I found a bottle like this on my desk at work. I’m not sure how she got it there. I think that’s the moment I fell hopelessly in love. I knew I could never let her go.
“The future is worth it. All the pain. All the tears. The future is worth the fight.”
“Hold hands. That’s what you’re meant to do. Keep doing that and don’t let go. That’s the secret.”
Today felt like losing her all over again. But I knew she intended the messages to make it feel like she was still there with me – reminiscing our relationship; our life together. I held the hats close to my chest and cursed cancer out loud. It felt impossible to move. But after an undetermined amount of time, I knew I had Sarah’s support to clean out her studio and recommendations on what to keep, give to friends or family, and what to get rid of would be scattered throughout the crafty items in hand-written notes. I wondered when she had taken the time to do this. I suppose she knew I’d feel like a pillaging pirate without her blessing. It was a small victory – like she had beaten cancer and managed to stay around after her body passes away.
In that moment, I loved her more than I ever had.