It didn’t matter what I did or where I went. You were there. If I could have bottled you, I would, because I knew it wouldn’t last.
I lost you suddenly one Saturday afternoon when you fell at my feet. At first, I was numb. Ambulances, hospitals, helicopter evacuation. Endless telephone calls. It went in a blur. But when I finally collapsed in bed, alone forever, you came in a dream shadow.
In the morning, I sensed you somewhere in the house, perhaps in another room. Not by me. If I went outside — it was the first day of spring — you weren’t there. When I came back in, you were.
You grew stronger in the days that followed. You didn’t understand why I didn’t go down the snack aisle in the grocery store to pick up pretzel rods and cheese curls. You were puzzled when I gave my neighbors things I’d never use again — ketchup, mustard, peanut butter, coffee. Yes, even coffee.
I took your lab coat back to the hospital, but none of your fellow-workers would use it. It had your name in permanent magic marker on the breast pocket. So I hung it back in the closet to use myself when I had some messy household chore.
I gave your first base mitt, specifically for a ‘lefty’, to a baseball coach, but he came back and said he couldn’t find anyone who wanted it. I don’t know where that is now. It was in the house at one time, but it’s disappeared.
The more I gave things away, the you faded, as if handing over one thing you used sent a piece of you out into the world never to return.
Now, so many years later, and three moves, I wonder where you are now. Do you still haunt the house we lived in? Faint, but still there. I didn’t feel you move with me, but maybe you went somewhere else. Maybe you left, finally, with your baseball mitt.
Wherever you are, play on.