The inventory begins. Starting off with words both spoken and not, thoughtlessly and calculated. Then drifting into actions taken or avoided, or worse, neglected. Wishing for inky sky of morning to come sooner than later so I might get an hour or even two of sleep before the day starts all over.

Finally, a shaky sleep. A nudge of a familiar hand with a questioning face. I begin to explain, apologize really, saying we did not know. I did my best asking, interpreting. The doctors said she had died and supposedly well intentioned siblings did what they thought was best. All of the physicians in the family agreed, she was past the point of coming back. She was gone.

It’s funny that somehow she never explains where she has been. Never apologizes for missing Christmas, a ballet recital, birthdays or Halloween.

Never says why her number has been disconnected, oh right that was me. I was the one who called the phone company to explain. The woman on the other end’s cigarette voice saying ‘sorry for your loss’. But of course she did not want to hear about it. And I wanted to ask why she was still here, since clearly she was a smoker. But I just hung up.

No, she offers no apologies now. Maybe it’s because I can’t stop the sorry’s, they spill out as I devise plans to retrieve her furniture, her jewelry, her house, her life. She squeezes my hand three times, as always. Her cold, bony hand so tight around mine I nearly scream. Then panic sets in, and I realize if I let her go this time she might not come back. Maybe this will be the last time. Maybe we won’t walk through her partially furnished house now lived in by strangers. Maybe I won’t be able to offer explanations.

And then her sorry comes through. The last thing she ever said to me before she went away. Her sing song voice fading. “I love you.” Interrupting my pleading “what is happening? get better!” she cuts me off ” I am sorry.”


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