The way the time feels isn't consistent. It's bendy, flexible. Just as I've returned to Saint Louis exactly ten years from the day that I left, and I can order a Ted Drewes concrete on a Friday night like I was never gone, even though there were lifetimes in Chicago and New Orleans in the space between.
It has been three years since she left this world, but it could have been three months ago, or three days ago. The wound is fresh. I was thinking today that one of the most desperate things about grief is that you only have the memories of The Lasts, and you lose the ability to have The Firsts.
The Firsts are for the living.
So yes, this photo is from The Last trip we took together. December 2011 in the days surrounding Christmas. We were in Key West, at the Ernest Hemingway Home, in the garden playing with the six-toed cats.
The Last Christmas she had.
The Last consistently lucid time we spent together.
I keep thinking how great she looks here, especially knowing as I do that by the time this photo was taken, she'd had numerous doses of Iodine-131, radiation, and the destructive side effects of Nexavar. Not to mention the ravaging effects of the disease itself.
It's what I'll look like, I hope, if I make it to 70. I just hope I'm made of even half of the fight she had in her.