A few weeks ago, a thread on a widow/ers page asked members if they could spend one more day with their deceased, what would they do?
The answers were what you’d expect: goodbye kisses, Iloveyous, point-blank questions, reunions with infants who’ve grown into schoolchildren.
I didn’t have an easy answer but the question lingered like a crossword clue that your synapses are on the verge of solving.
The answer manifested itself today in the shape of my late husband’s mother, who arrived at my apartment last night. While she slept in, I read the morning paper to the uncanny tune of Hilda snoring at the same tempo as Alberto.
When she woke, she rubbed my head affectionately on her way to the bathroom. By the time she emerged, I had placed the Times and a cafecito beside her reading glasses.
Around noon, she asked if I was hungry?
Should we go to that crêpe place?
After a lazy lunch, we strolled the neighborhood.
Wanna get massages?
By the end of my massage, today starts feeling not unlike my version of a perfect day with Alberto.
Synapses surge into gear, and as we pull on jackets, I ask if she—and her surgically replaced knee—are up for the High Line?
We talk about going there every time I visit. We should go.
At the top of the stairs at 23rd street, I watch her react to the park’s three-story vantage point.
She gawks at the rail lines incorporated into green space. Pauses to stare at century-old buildings. Shoots iPhone pics of birds foraging for seeds.
I have never…this is incredible, Tré.
These words mean more than she knows. More than I realized. And though they’re coming from my Next Best Thing and not Alberto—who died two months before this much-anticipated park opened—the moment is intensely gratifying.
Back at the apartment, we settle into our preferred spots in the living room, engaging each another between the article she’s reading or the email I’m answering.
Does Italian sound good for dinner?
Yep. We can do Don Gio’s for delivery.
Her order—right down to the garlic knots—is the same as Alberto’s and I am officially embracing the hell out of this day.
I know it will end with a car taking Hilda to Jersey, but for the few hours we have left, I want to introduce her to something her son would’ve devoured.
Do you watch “House of Cards?”
No. I’ve heard of it though.
Two episodes later, she looks as mesmerized as Alberto did when he discovered a new season of “24.”
My car is downstairs but I want to see what happens!
You’ll just have to come back!
I will be back.
Love you, Tré.
Love you too.