I remember this day like it never ended. I got up that morning around 4am. I made sure I didn’t wake him up; I wanted him to be in comfort for as long as possible. I started making my morning tea, and the last meal I would ever get to cook for him, at least for the foreseeable future. Steak, home fries with extra onions, how he liked it. Hard-boiled eggs and cheese grits. I was making his half cocoa, half decaf mixed before I saw him walking into the kitchen. This man. My man. My best friend. My Lover. My enemy at times and my comforter all the rest. All of that was gone now. His eyes were so empty, red and swollen. I knew that sight only once, when we lost the best thing we ever created.
I got up to greet him. Our morning routine in the kitchen was to do the Kid N Play dance and whoever stepped out of sync first had to do dishes. The scene usually ended with laughter and kisses. However, this morning wasn’t typical. It wasn’t routine. Throwing my arms around his waist, I buried myself in his stomach. It was silent for what seemed like an eternity. I could hear his staggered breathing. Then the trembles.
He let out a sound I had never heard from him before. This was the strongest man I had ever met, physically and mentally, yet here we were, on the kitchen floor in tears. We had never spoken about this day, but we knew it was soon to come. The house full of moving boxes, furniture disappearing when friends came to select what they have spent years coveting. I thought back to when we first saw this house and knew it was our dream. The move in day that was ruined by a flash flood. We spent that first weekend in our home making love on every surface, barely noticing the power outage or lack of furniture. Now here we were, 3 years later saying our goodbyes, to not only the house, but also each other.
We dragged out breakfast for as long as we could. I spent the time not eating, just taking notes. Getting his affairs in order was number one on my honey-do list. Making sure everyone in his life would be taken care of. In all the madness going on in his world, he had time to create of detailed binder of what he needed to be done for other people. We made sure everything was as good as it could be and got ready for the longest drive we had ever taken.
His best friend Walt picked us up that morning. We sat in the backseat and took Grand River all the way from Novi to Downtown Detroit. We rolled our favorite strain into a pair of Garcia Vegas cigars and made our plans for 2023. I planned for everything to be perfect, down to Reasonable Doubt playing on the radio. It was important to me that he knew that I remembered everything. That I would do any and everything.
The last blunt was burned a few feet from the courthouse. I couldn’t tell if my eyes were red from crying or Kush, but I knew they needed to remain tear free for the next 30 minutes. We waited until I saw the man I had seen too much of in the past 14 months. His lawyer was a man of little words, and that day was no different. We silently walked past him to the stairs. The real walk of shame, reserved for criminals and those who love and defend them. A place where you are innocent until proven guilty, yet innocence is defined as having great counsel. It always smelled of wood, leather-bound books and fear. I squeezed his hand tighter for reassurance. His or mine, I wasn’t sure, but we both needed it.
I had to say my final goodbye in a small room with a guard right outside the door. That entire moment felt like a bad dream. We upheld our promise from years back. That night on TybeeIsland, we were enjoying the deck of our rental home, talking about going crabbing in the morning. All of a sudden, he turned to me and stated “If anything ever happens to me, don’t let my last image of you be sad, ok?” I don’t know if he was foreshadowing, or just drunk, but that question always stayed with me. Afterwards I would always make sure to tell him “I love you” before a phone call, before he left, or even after a fight. He made me think about the last memory that I leave people with. How fitting that I can’t forget that memory of him.