My feet are hurting. The walk today was a little farther than usual. But, now I could feel the cool effect of the witch hazel sinking in around my calloused toes. The telephone rang and spoiled my ecstasy. I let it ring; my feet were wet. Once they dried, I checked the caller id, and then redial Emily’s number.
When Emily answered, I could tell she had been crying. Her son died two years ago and she has a select list of friends she would call when her sorrows were heavy. These are friends that had heard her stories about Boyd many times and knew the difference from an end of a sentence and a sob. We were close enough that she had incorporated our memories into her stories.
She sniffed and drew air into her nose. I waited for her to speak; the wait was long. I almost said something. Then she called my name, Curtis. Yes? Curtis, did I tell you about the time Boyd got that job at Nolands?
What about it, I said?
He liked that job because one day he wanted to become a plumber.
(Actually, he liked the job because he liked driving the forklift.)
He was so nervous that he was late his first day, he made a better impression the next day.
(He forgot his wallet and badge and had to return home twice.)
He was a good worker, I said.
She got quiet. It doesn’t hurt like before, but it still hurts.
The coolness of the witch hazel was gone, so I splashed more on my feet waiting for her to speak.
She said I’m too old to have another child. I certainly don’t feel like starting parenthood over.
Have you talked to his Dad, I asked?
He says I bring him down.
He won’t talk to me if I mention Boyd. He let my calls go to voice mail. I saw his wife at Kroger; she said he’s drinking again. He better watch himself, he knows depression runs in his family.
I am trying to let go; I gave away Boyd’s things. The only thing I kept was a pair of Jordan’s. If only the memory would come at night, then I could take a pill and sleep. All day long there are thoughts about him that weigh me down. I can’t get out the chair.
I was in WalMart and they displayed three artists that he had bought. As soon as I got home, I put them in the trash and cried.
Did you bake anything this week, Emily?
Yes, I started to bake a Key Lime cake but caught myself, that was his favorite. I made a strawberry cake instead; I’ll bring you some to church Sunday.
Girl, you are going to make me fat.
Even my fat jeans are tight; the baking calms me.
She got quiet again; I waited.
Why did he have to kill himself, Curtis?
The depression was too much, he was hurting, and he would not take the medicine.
You did all that you could. Your pain will ease; the worst is over. You will learn to live with what’s left.
I’m trying Curtis; I’m trying.
Tell you what, I ‘ll put an extra hole in my belt, bring me two slices of that cake.