There’s not a lot of Steph’s food still in the refrigerator, but tossing it seems wasteful and distasteful. So I’ve done nothing with it; done nothing for too long, to be honest. A mostly-empty green plastic tube of pre-grated Parmesan. Two half-gone bottles of her preferred salad dressing, one Blue Cheese and one Thousand Island. A jar of shrimp sauce, which she used as a dip for cream cheese on crackers.
I don’t want to eat it – this was her food, not mine – and I don’t want to junk it, but some of the cheese has begun changing color or sprouting hair, and there’s a beer that must be skunky by now. Goodbye, cheese. Down the drain, beer.
There’s a bottle of moscato that’s been chilling in the fridge for several months. It was supposed to go well with a dinner Steph had prepared in June or July, but we forgot to put it out that night, so it’s still waiting to have its cork popped. I don’t often drink alcohol, but I’ve kept the moscato as an emergency kit, in case I get the blues extra-bad some night and decide to go on a bender.
What saddens me most is the curds. We bought a giant sack of curds when my family visited, just a few weeks before Stephanie died. Steph was crazy about curds, just loved ‘em. I like curds, but can’t bring myself to even nibble on these. And I’m not absolutely sure, but if memory serves Stephanie bought these curds herself, and that would make them the very last thing she purchased with money or plastic out of her own wallet. It would be truly difficult, maybe impossible, for me to simply toss them in the trash.
And there we are. I don’t know what to do with Stephanie’s curds, and yeah, I feel stupid even wondering about it. I ought to just throw them out and forget about it, but – I can’t. Instead I slid the sack of curds inside an oversized plastic baggie, to protect either the curds or the rest of the food in the fridge. Maybe I’ll let the curds be a refrigerated extension to the Shrine, sitting in the fridge forever and ever, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, curds to mold.
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Here’s an email from my brother: “Are you OK?” I haven’t answered his last several emails stretching back a few weeks, so I suppose I deserve that. I’ll answer his emails. Hey, I’m alive and well. But of course, I’m not at all “OK.”
A couple of months ago, I lost my best friend, and the meaning in my life. It would be an exaggeration to say there’s no pleasure or no joy; I’ve laughed once in a while, and had occasional happy moments since being alone. But a quarter-inch below the surface, there’s no point to any of it. There’s no warmth, nothing that matters.
I am always, always, teetering on the brink, five seconds from bursting into tears. My big progress is that lately, I don’t think it looks like I’m five seconds from crying. My long-term goal is to make it to ten.
It’s still awful coming home to she’s-not-there. I’ve always been an early riser, and Stephanie liked to sleep late, so being home alone isn’t much different than being home in the old days, when she was asleep in the morning and I’d be puttering around on the computer or watching an old movie on Netflix. But coming home to an empty apartment? That’s the worst thing in the universe.
Steph was everything I had in life, and everything I wanted in life.
For about ten minutes I’ve been staring at the previous sentence. It means more than I meant it to mean, and I’m trying to wrap my head around it. I had everything I wanted in life, which is extraordinary. Not many people can say they had everything they wanted in life, but I can say it and it’s true. And now, everything I wanted in life is gone.
More about Stephanie.