Page 54 - WTP Vol. XI #5
P. 54

Hooked (continued from preceding page)
you, about all of us, all together, every summer, all summer long. You and I were always the ones who remembered everything, for all of them. I will always remember, all of it, for you.
riage and begin her second act, with me, the last of her five children living at home, in tow,” reading from printed pages with oversized font, trying to slow down, pacing my words to my breath, to my heart- beat. Wiped out and heart-achy over Peter, I wanted to skip the reading.
 Pausing, I wondered if it was fair to insert myself, uninvited, into his last breaths.
My phone buzzed. It was Jenn. I held my breath and looked at the screen.
I love you, my friend.
Instead of sending, I would keep the draft text. Per- haps forever. I would say it out loud like a prayer. I would send the words out to God with faith that they would reach him.
2/1/20 8:14 am
I texted Peter’s sister Jenn.
Wendy, thank you.
1/31/20 4:10 pm
Flooded with love and a sense of connection, I had a fresh determination to attend the reading. I contin- ued to practice, hand on my heart, deep slow breaths, “When I started first grade, she enrolled full time at Columbia University. Passionate about politics, she called early American intellectual history her home.”
I know. . .
I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I feel
so helpless. The one thing I could do was to keep his secret.
I completely understand. I wrote him a goodbye text that
I’m not going to send. I’ll keep it forever in my phone, like I will keep him forever in my heart.
1/31/20 11:23pm
He wants you to come tomorrow. Chris, Paul and Mike are coming too. Can you be here at 11?
I’m with him now. If you are open to it, send me the text.
Some 131 miles and 24 hours later, I was sitting by Peter’s hospice bedside in his home in the Philadel- phia suburbs, holding his hand. Curved around the foot of his hospital bed, surrounding him in 49 years of love and friendship were John (the storied caster and Pete’s younger brother), Chris (also fishing, but not casting), Paul and Mike.
Jenn had been summoned to Peter’s hospital bedside in the hours since our last exchange. They didn’t think he’d make it through the night.
1/31/20 11:26
“Alright, Pete, I have it right here.”
Texting through tears,
I handed Chris the manila envelope containing the yellowed 40-year-old story along with a stack of loose-leaf photo album pages so lacking in adhesive the pictures had slid out from under the clear plastic film to the bottom of the envelope.
Jenn, I can’t thank you enough. Here.
“Chris, hand me the story?” I asked, not letting go of Peter’s hand.
Thank you, Wendy, for sharing this. I’ll get it to him.
Early the next morning, I was in bed preparing for an open mic event that afternoon at a local writer’s studio where I planned to read a recently published story about my mother.
“You won’t believe it, Pete. For 40 years, we’ve been telling the story all wrong. It’s all right here. You ready?” I asked, gazing into his big brown puppy dog eyes untouched by the cancer that had thinned and aged him. Peter gently nodded, laughing as much as he was able. His same stunning sly smile, now slow
“This money was how, after 25 years of being a housewife, she was able to leave an unhappy mar-
He loved it. He smiled for the first time in weeks.
I was awash in relief. He knew.
2/1/20 4:01 pm

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