He tore all her photos off the wall. All the beautiful photos of her, of them, photos she took whenever they went on a road trip, and even the silly instagram photo collages she had put together each year for their anniversary. She had taken so many photos and everyday he had to look at them and miss her. She was gone now and every time he looked at them he wanted to cry. He missed her so much. They had been married for 10 years. Only 10 years. They were supposed to be together for the rest of their lives which was definitely supposed to be more than 10 years for pete’s sake. They had sung that Tim McGraw song together “The Next 30 Years” and had dreamt of sitting in rockin’ chairs on the front porch in the country somewhere, old and wrinkled, watching the sunset, holding hands, and smiling as they remembered all the great times they had had over the years.
He thought of the day just over a year ago when she had gotten her first gray hair. She had cried at how old she was getting and how it was all downhill from there. He had told her that he would still love her whether she was young or old. He would love her when she was old and gray with no teeth and glasses as thick as coke bottles. She laughed at that and had asked, “Will you love me still when my mind begins to go and I start to forget everything like in that one movie with the girl from Mean Girls?” He knew what movie she was talking about. They had watched it together and she had cried at the end. He had even teared up a little himself. He didn’t even have to think about it. He’d do anything to be with her as they had said in their vows, “Till Death Do Us Part.” But they were supposed to get old first before that happened. She wasn’t supposed to go to work one day only to be killed by a stray bullet that had gone through her shop window. A stray bullet that had killed her instantly. She had just finished clearing the cookie display cases. Collecting all the unsold cookies to take to the homeless shelter on her way home. She had started doing this after her sister had gotten her to volunteer one weekend. There had been so many homeless people. Much more than she had anticipated and it had shocked her. She had been so angry with herself because she was shocked. How could she have not known. So now she donated when she could and volunteered at least one weekend a month. Well, not now. Not anymore because she was gone. Why couldn’t it have been something like cancer? Then there would have been a diagnosis, a treatment, and that horrible countdown to the end of days, but at least during all of that, he would’ve had time to tell her how much he loved her. He would’ve showed her. He would’ve made sure she knew as she passed from this life to the next that he would always love her.
Now he looked at all the photos on the ground. Some of the frames had broken and there were bits of glass here and there. He leaned against the wall and slid down. He sat next to all the photos and cried. He cried and cried until his nose was so stuffed he could hardly breathe and his head ached. He was so tired of crying, so tired of missing her, but what could he do. She was gone. He didn’t get to wake up to the sound of her in the shower at 4 in the morning getting ready to go to the bakery. He would never hear her whistle as she tested recipes in their own kitchen. He would never taste those sinfully delicious red velvet cookies that she made for him every Valentine’s day. She would bake them at the shop and then would bring them home and hide them somewhere with little clues for him to find. It had become a tradition. She wouldn’t make those cookies for him on any other day. That made them even more delicious. He would get so excited for Valentine’s day. He laughed as he realized for the first time that she had tricked him into never forgetting Valentine’s day. That’s why he had loved her. She was so frickin’ brilliant. He really laughed then. All his friends had wondered why he had asked her out that first time. Sure, she had been pretty, but she had always been so quiet and hard working. She rarely left the kitchen. He would only see her whenever Kelly or Shannon would swing through the door to get more cookies to fill the case or needed to ask her questions about ingredients whenever people were worried about allergies or something like that. On June 10, 2003 (he would never forget that day), he had gone to the shop shortly after they opened to get some cookies for a family potluck. He was supposed to bring a dessert and had forgotten. His sister had told him she would forgive him if he would bring cookies from “The Cookie Exchange”. When he walked in, she was sitting at one of the tables, drinking a cup of coffee and eating an oatmeal raisin cookie. He ordered his cookies and paid for them. While he waited for the cookies to be boxed up, he took a deep breath and walked over to her table.
“Good Morning,” he said. She looked up, surprised to see that he was addressing her. “G-Good Morning,” she said. He registered the surprise and said, “I’m sorry to bother you on your break. I just always see you baking in the back there and never get a chance to tell you thank you for the most delicious cookies around.” She blushed and thanked him. She had told him later, after they had been dating for some time, that she had seen him too and had thought about him often, but had been afraid to try dating while still getting her bakery going. He put his card down on the table, a spur of the moment idea, and said, “I’ll let you get back to your break, but I’d love to sit down and talk with you about featuring your cookies at my cafe. If you’re interested, give me a call.” He turned around just in time to see that his box of cookies was ready. He grabbed the box and rushed out the door. His heart started racing and he wanted to get out of there before he said or did something stupid. He couldn’t believe that he had just pulled out his card and did that. It hadn’t even crossed his mind to have her cookies at his shop. It had just popped in his head. He’d had an overwhelming urge to ask her out and this is what his brain came up with on the fly. It had taken her 2 weeks to call him and schedule a meeting. He’d almost given up on ever hearing from her. He had thought about calling her and following up, but he was afraid of appearing too pushy. He didn’t really need the business. He wanted the date and she finally called. They met for dinner at a local diner. They spent the first 45 minutes exchanging polite talk and discussing selling her cookies, but as the beers began to sink in and they both began to relax, they started just talking. Four hours later, they were walking through the local park and neither of them wanted to stop. They had spent many more nights like that. He remembered how easily they had connected. He proposed to her 4 months later. All of his family and friends thought he was crazy and weren’t shy about telling him so, but he hadn’t cared. He knew he would love her always. There was no doubt. They were married 2 months later. The first year had been really hard adjusting to life together, melding their routines, etc. But they had made it through. They had been strong, they’d been a team, they’d been best friends. That’s why this was so hard. He felt like someone had cut off a limb and he still felt the phantom pains. Was he ever going to get past this? Right here, right now, looking at their life together, he couldn’t imagine life without her. He didn’t want to imagine life without her. Today he would just have to be satisfied with the heart wrenching pain because today that’s how he felt. Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.
- Not feeling great today, so I am posting this story I wrote a few years ago from a writing prompt found on WriteWorld