YOU CAN’T MISS WHAT YOU NEVER HAD
A short, short story
He was seventy-five, over a year now without his wife, Angie, actually four and a half months beyond a full year, still missing her as if she’d only just died, in reality worse in some ways, like knowing for sure it wasn’t just a bad dream, she wouldn’t be coming back, she was dead. How do you live when every single day you wake you realize again, yeah again, she’s not coming back, not today, not ever?
His name was Dave, last names didn’t matter any more, most who knew him, and by now most who would surely ever know him he knew, they had known him long enough that a last name added nothing to their view of him, a tall, not skinny anymore, short bearded, gray-white haired, baggy eyed man who seemed always to be sighing.
Where the devil had he picked up the habit of sighing almost every time he walked into a room? Damn, that bugged him. How did that set with everyone in the group? It probably annoyed some of them worse than it did him.
It wasn’t that way when Angie was still alive, he didn’t tire of bursting into a room and telling everyone what his latest writing project was, or the sketch he was in the middle of drawing or, hell, even the latest off-color joke he’d learned from his millionaire-friend Mike Hanly.
Funny, he flashed back to when they were young real estate agents, it was Dave who was the one telling the jokes to Mike, who could never get the punch line quite right when he retold the joke. Now, Mike was comfortably laid-back, wealthy as hell, and one of the few people Dave could unload to about Angie and everything she meant to him.
Mike had lost his second wife, Janys, to cancer, almost five years ago, so he’d already been through the immediate trauma of loss. Now with Angie gone too, well, let’s just say they were much simpatico. Mike was four years older, and insisted he was the trail blazer, so Dave had to be content to be the idiot who follows along behind making the same dumb mistakes Mike did.
Now here was a very funny thing, funny peculiar, not so much ha ha, Dave recognized he’d just gone a brief few minutes without feeling like somebody was walking on his chest with hard-rubber, tire-treaded boots, yet he was remembering Angie, though through Mike, you know, sorta like a filter, he’d pictured himself and Mike and his first wife Pat, and of course, Angie, out to dinner forty some years ago in Santa Rosa. They were at the Oakmont country club, one of their usual haunts, laughing and joking and just enjoying themselves.
They were almost inseperable back then, all four of them. Mike and Pat had two daughters, one of them, Kathy, died when she was only twenty-one, back in 1972, a horrifying event wreaking total havoc on the Hanly’s marriage. They tried valiantly to hold it together... didn’t work, they divorced and are now, fortunately, really good friends.
Of course, having seven children in all, and raising six of them– Angie had four before they were married and they had three of their own, her oldest, Ron, being with his dad at the time, Dave and Angie sometimes got into it pretty stupidly, fighting that is, risking also doing the divorce thing, but no, not really, there was never a time they could afford it then, and In truth, by the time they could afford it, the kids were gone and they were having much to good’a time doing many of the things they’d dreamed of. Not anyhing against the kids really, something else he was thankful for, those kids all turned into great adults, thanks mainly to Angie.
And that’s when Dave realized, Good Lord, what would he do today if none of that stuff had ever happened? My oh my, he’d have a vacuum where his memory now provided such pain, but for damn sure, there was also a goldmine full of the absolute greatest memories one man could possibly remember in a lifetime.
So, he decided, if you have to choose, let it be the whole gamut of emotions, there was a hell of a lot more good stuff than bad, and that damn pain is sure as hell worth it. So, son, keep your mind on that one thought, its true , you can’t miss something you never had. Amen brother!
D. Kenneth Ross