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We Didn’t Know It Was the Final Time

Later, at dwelling, I noticed a photograph on my cellphone from Dec. 12, 2022, precisely a yr earlier, of Kiki flopped on the sofa in sweats, hair in a ponytail, smiling up at me. A cardboard field of ornaments on the ground beside her, our tablecloth with the elves and sweet canes draped over the armrest by her head. We had been laughing about how Christmas is difficult work, all that adorning, and the way we wanted to eat and relaxation and make pecan squares and watch some previous “Spouse Swap” episodes.

Eric was away. She had come up for the evening to our dwelling in Keene, N.H., from hers in Northampton, Mass., to place up the tree with me. And now this was all I had: an image of her on the sofa, and one other, of the completed tree.

We frequently don’t get to know when it’s the final time. There will need to have been a final time I performed tennis with my father, a remaining journey to the flicks with my mom, earlier than I misplaced them each to dementia. A final dinner with my pal Julie earlier than her most cancers prognosis modified every little thing, our daughters nonetheless little, the 4 of us laughing across the desk once we thought we had a lot time.

I wasn’t paying consideration then; I didn’t assume I wanted to.

The final time I used to be with Kiki was the day after Christmas when she was on the point of head dwelling. I had put an artwork guide out on the espresso desk for us to have a look at collectively, one I had purchased months earlier than, figuring out she would adore it. We had the identical style and will love issues in the identical means; I didn’t have that with anybody else.

“Let’s have a look at this now,” I stated, “earlier than you go.”

We sat on the sofa with the guide between us, turning the pages and speaking about every image, laughing in the best way you do when you already know the opposite individual sees one thing precisely the identical means, sees why it’s humorous and unhappy on the identical time.

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