In a weird way, I feel like I'm in a countdown now. Today makes it eleven months without Frankie, but yesterday, a year ago yesterday; my aunt lost the second of her two brothers.
He was my sister's Godfather, a math teacher who was remembered fondly by his students years after he filled their heads with numbers and sent them off into the world.
September fifth, October sixth. On November seventh last year, we all lay in wait for the third in the pattern to click. The only thing that died that day was my father's car. We all shook our heads and chuckled without mirth.
I suppose I'll always tie one to the other because while we were waiting in the foyer of the funeral home, waiting to pay our respects and express our sympathy for the family's sorrow, my brother and I stood chatting to various cousins, stood chatting without a care in the world.
"See, Lisa? See how I've lost weight? Don't you think I look good?" he said, completely without guile to my cousin's lovely wife, and I rolled my eyes, because Frankie had no idea how to flirt, but always knew how to endear himself to a pretty girl.
In reality, the weight loss was a worry to my mother, because nobody just loses weight for no reason at all. Nobody drops twelve pounds over a summer without trying. But he liked the way he looked, and it was nice to see him with a little more confidence.
A month later, eleven months yesterday, we attended the one-month memorial mass, and Frankie's face was ashen and yellowy. He was uncomfortable and in pain, and we left early, leaving everybody in our world to cake and coffee in the church hall. He was dying. It would be the last time they saw him. Seven hours later, he was gone.
Have you ever watched the big hand on your watch do its job, ticking through one minute to the next?
I suppose that's why it feels like a countdown, because we've replayed that last month in our heads over and over, breaking down the days and the hours, trying to see what we missed. And now we're doing it again, in horrifying real time, re-living every moment, banging our head against the same walls.
Eleven months. Man, I don't even know what that means anymore.
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