She reads the words over and over (and over) again, written by hand or printed by Hallmark. Sometimes it’s accompanied by exclamation points and other times there are drawn in hearts and in the corner or at least three of the cards is the date: May 9, 2008.
They’re all signed with names: “Auntie Lee,” “Lauren & Mike,” “your roommate,” “the Wilson Family.” She wonders if half of them will mean anything to her in another year or another week, even. They’re names, signed in a hurry, in sloppy hand in a card for someone they only casually knew.
She sifts through the pile of cards that are barely days old, taking hold of one with a large pink flower on it. She winces when she flips it open. Like many, this card reads “Congratulations!” but has no personal message, just a name.
“Love always, Uncle Ben.”
She’s not sure if he really signed it; the sickness left him devoid of strength. The card, like all others, is dated May 9. He died May 10.
It is the last card he ever gave to her. That signature is the last breath of him she’ll know.
Three days prior to his death, Uncle Ben had slipped into a coma. She ignores this fact as she stares at his name in ink, in handwriting that, if she squints hard enough, really does look like his.
And this, a little ditty that might sound familiar if you know anything about my personal life:
There is no ceiling in this apartment’s bedroom.
No, no there is a ceiling; it’s just exposed. You have to think of it creatively. Instead of a beautiful finish, there are simply wires that dangle between beams. You’ll have a canopy of cables where your bed should be. No big deal.
Whenever the washer is used, the kitchen sink fills up with murky liquid. Perhaps there’s something eco-friendly to be found there. Maybe dirty laundry water can cut through the grease on plates.
Maybe you’ll just invest in paper plates for a bit.
There are cracked tiles in the bathroom. The kitchen is admittedly cute, but has no stove. It’s going to be a weekend of paint and elbow grease and repairs. Tiles will be mended and pipes can be re-routed. More importantly, this place will mend you, too: a little spackle here, some adjusting there, and pieces of your life are going to take shape again.
And…you’ll figure out the ceiling. Who knows, maybe staring at dangling wires soothes the soul at night.