The boys are making lasagna for Christmas dinner, Chris’s boys. Chris has been hosting Christmas dinner for many years, and Jon wants to continue the tradition of the family gathering there and knew his boys would help with the cooking.
Which they are. But thinking about Matt making lasagna makes me cry. In early July we made our first trip to Stow to help, right after Jon emailed David and me to ask for advice about how to handle Chris’s growing infirmity and lack of awareness of how her illness was advancing. Our advice was our presence. David and I both knew you don’t do what Jon was doing alone.
Matt arrived two days after us. Chris was still walking, though barely and mostly with someone beside her and helping her get up and down from her chair, where she spent most of the day. She was having trouble hanging on to what was happening around her.
Jon and Matt and I had decided to make lasagna for dinner, and Matt and his girlfriend were putting it together as David and I got ready to go for a swim at the local lake, our regular release on those hot afternoons of confusion and sadness. Watching my hands plunge in to the green water below me, over and over, right then left then right then left then right brought me back to myself. Or to familiar bilateral motion anyway.
“What’s going on?” Chris asked, because she could see the activity in the kitchen and it was confusing not to be part of it. That was what she did, put together meals. Why was it happening without her?
A couple of hours later, when she shuffled to the table where her other boys had gathered with their girlfriends, her face was blank. She was quiet, fallen out of the present, her eyes fixed, looking at another world.
It was light then, the summer evening still too hot, windows open to any breeze. Now it’s so dark and so hard to think about that blankness, how Chris disappeared before she disappeared.