His Last Day.
I’m packing for tomorrow’s trip to California, so I buy an On-Demand movie for background noise. It probably sucks, but I’ll never know for sure, thanks to its pixilated screen and the creepy Robot-ese in which the dialogue was delivered.
Tonight, I call my cable company to request credit for the movie that’s clearly experiencing ‘digital issues.’
Tonight I had to give the ‘account holder’s name.’
And the phone number associated with the account.
I’ve forgotten my late husband’s phone number?
It’s only been a year and a half.
How much do I suck?
I grab my old cell that now serves as my alarm clock.
I find Alberto’s number.
I recite half of it.
Before choking and hanging up on Time Warner.
Ain’t the first time.
Dec. 19, 2009, 12:43pm: When I returned from London after Thanksgiving, my long-time friend Tony—who apartment-sat while I was gone—said he did everything on my ‘Honey-Do’ list.
Except the thing that mattered most: restoring the wireless that disappeared a few weeks after Alberto’s funeral.
Tony is the IT genius who tells me my router is bad and all you need is a new one.
So you’re saying it’s still not fixed? That Ihave to buy a new router and install it?
Basically, yes, he says.
I am pissed off and jet-lagged, but I go to Best Buy and buy a stupid router.
Should’ve left well enough alone.
The router installation doesn’t work and when I call Tony, who’s staying on the Upper West, I’m nearly hyperventilating.
Help, I say, it’s not fixed.
He ditches his girlfriend and comes downtown.
For the next two hours, he troubleshoots and we learn that my Internet service is being billed to a provider who hasn’t gotten a payment in eight months.
I call tech support and offer to pay if they can reset Alberto’s password—the usual suspects didn’t work—and the Internet disconnects completely.
No Interwebs at home for the past three weeks.
(Thanks for handling things, Tony.)
My new Internet installation from Time Warner is scheduled for today.
Except the technician hasn’t shown.
When I launch our desktop address book, it contains everything about our Time Warner account except their stupid phone number.
I dig through Alberto’s pile of mail to find a Time Warner bill with a telephone number.
As I’m dialing, I notice the Movies & Events section on the statement:
03/14/09 Che Part One: Start 8:10pm
Che Part Two Start: 10:22pm
March 14, 2009.
This is the Night Before He Died.
I hang up the phone.
And stare at the two last movies he ever watched.
Benecio Del Toro as Ché.
The guy from Weeds as Fidel.
I remember the look and light of our apartment that night, when I fell asleep at the wrong end of our bed, watching Che Part Two.
That movie is the last thing I remember about our lazy Saturday.
That lazy Saturday is what became his last Saturday.
My memory of Alberto’s last day began at 8:30am, as he slept.
I was tiptoeing around our apartment, looking for clean socks and an iPod charger before my 9am cardio class.
When I returned from the gym, he was still in bed, playing naked Scrabble on the laptop. I’d slipped out of my Nikes, slid under the covers until he’d said Is there breakfast?
There is, I’d said. Whatcha in the mood for?
Two waffles with snausages please!
I served him breakfast in bed—ice-cold butter with warm maple syrup—while we watched last week’s CBS Sunday Morning on the DVR.
When it ended, he said I’ll be here! and pulled the duvet around him for a nap.
I’d curled up with Warren Buffett’s biography for a few hours.
When Alberto awoke, he apologized for being such a sleepyhead.
Stop, I’d said, it’s grumpy out and it’s a perfect book-reading day.
I love you, he’d said.
Me too, I said, borrowing his favorite response.
We watched Silence of the Lambs—he’d somehow never seen it before—and ordered sandwiches from the deli downstairs. Another nap for him and a few more chapters for me, and the sky began darkening. He’d woken just before the laundry was delivered and helped me haul it inside, hanging everything on the back of the front door.
We lay on the couch before discussing what to do for dinner.
What are you in the mood for, he asked.
No sé, I said.
We flipped through our three-ring binder of menus in plastic sheets.
And decided on Greek.
I wrote the order with his black Sharpie pen: scallops and salad for me. An order of saganaki and a gyro platter with an extra side of gyro meat for him.
I still have the notepad with our dinner order.
I still turn away when I pass the stupid Greek restaurant that delivered his last meal.
I still wonder, if he’d ordered something less artery-clogging for dinner, would he have lived another night?
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