Saturday (6)

Saturday I cry washing dishes because I never got to say goodbye to Ken all those years ago when he was dying in an Oakland hospital. Standing at the sink I remember decades before standing beside him in the driveway in Newport Beach, the two of us watching them drive away with my stepfather’s body. I don’t remember if we spoke, only our silent bond, witnesses to that final leave-taking. When we walked back into the kitchen, Judy and Mary Ann were sweeping things off the counters, quick manic movements, black framed glasses and Bic cigarette lighters and all the little bits of him landing in cardboard boxes. I made myself a tomato and red onion sandwich and sat in the midst of the chaos chewing and swallowing. It could have been different, I think now, my hands full of soap and a slippery blue bowl. It could have been different if we’d all sat down. Maybe Ken and I would have talked about what Jarv meant to us. Maybe Mary Ann and Judy would have joined in, stopped hiding the evidence. It could have been a long slow day of shared grief, even a deep peace at the end of it. Instead, I sat on the barstool licking mayonnaise from my thumb and feeling like an alien.