Law’s back on my shit list.
I don’t know if shit lists usually include people you had sex with, but mine does.
And he’s the only person on it.
The following day is Thanksgiving, and Evelyn and I spend it the way we always do. Since it’s always been just the two of us, I felt silly early on trying to cook a big Thanksgiving meal. I created a solution that held true to the meaning of the holiday.
I learned a lot during my childhood about poverty. My parents didn’t have much, and when they died, Ritchie and I had even less. I learned to work hard through circumstance, and used the knowledge to create a life for my daughter where she didn’t have to worry about money, food, or necessities like I did. That meant I had to do what I could to teach her about working hard in other ways, by donating our time and talents to those who didn’t have what we did.
Three times a year I require her to do something selfless, and apart from Thanksgiving, the choice is hers.
This last summer, she donated thirty hours of her time to community clean up by picking up trash, and earlier last spring, she volunteered during activity-time at the local adult group home.
Thanksgiving I reserved to volunteer together at the soup kitchen one town over and provide meals to those in our county who can’t afford to buy their own. Throughout the day, the volunteers stagger their breaks and eat their Thanksgiving meal with the people who come to see us.
I hope to teach her not only to be kind and helpful to those less fortunate but also the humility to see them as the people they are. To not judge based on circumstance. Each person has their own individual story.
Distracted by the holiday, I don’t even notice the silence from Law until after my appointment on Friday. The doctor clears me from the crutches and instructs me to tape my foot and start some stretches for my ankle. The silence from him registers when I pull up our text thread on my cell.
What am I supposed to do?
I don’t want to seem needy by reaching out when he clearly hasn’t thought of me. Rather than come across as something I’m not, I text Kiersten my good news, tuck my phone back in my purse, and drive home to get my girl. Tonight, Evelyn and I get our mani-pedis.
I go to bed with a heavy heart and without a text.
The weekend comes and goes.
Sunday night, while Evelyn does her homework, I cave and send him a message to ask if he’s still in town. I remember what he said the night at the grocery store about living in Arrow Creek now, but maybe he had to go back home to deal with some of his father’s affairs.
Just because we shared a few hours of mind blowing intimacy doesn’t make him accountable to me.
He never responds.
A week goes by.
I kiss my twenties goodbye and greet my thirties by waking up at the ass crack of dawn, packing a shovel and a lawn chair in the trunk of my car, dropping Evelyn off at school, and driving to the cemetery.
After shoveling a heavy, wet path from the main walkway to Ritchie’s plot and clearing a spot to sit, I return the shovel back to the car, and haul my lawn chair, the blanket, and two flasks of bourbon back to his grave.
Ass in the chair, blanket covering my lap, one flask rests against the guitar on his headstone, and the other I clasp in my hand.
Is it morbid spending every birthday with my dead brother? Most likely yes, but I don’t care. When I’m lonely, I feel more at ease here with Ritchie than I do in my own quiet house.
“Hey, Witchy Ritchie. Your sister’s turning into an old lady. I’m sort of pissed you aren’t here to experience this with me. This morning I found a gray hair on my head. Do you think what mom used to say is true? That for every gray hair you pull, three more grow in its place? If so, I’m screwed, because I yanked that sucker out without even thinking twice.”
I take a swig from the flask.
“If I could see you, I’m sure you’d be shaking your head at me right now and rubbing the back of it like you always did when I was about to get into trouble.”