Thursday, March 21, 2019


I heard the autopsy results today, over the phone.

Three hours before you died, I made us sandwiches, not knowing, of course, the importance of the moment.  Your favorite thin-sliced smoked ham from Lassen.  Swiss cheese.  Really good tomatoes, and lettuce, and Dijon mustard, the seed kind.  I'd been making you sandwiches for long decades.  I wanted to take care of you, and I began to learn the things you liked to eat, the very first month we were together.  In those days, it was white American cheese from the deli in the Swarthmore supermarket.  Tomatoes.  Miracle Whip.  On white bread.

28 years after those first romantic sandwiches, you died and they cut you open and took out your guts to look at, along with everything else.  I guess the medical examiner held all the parts of you in his hands, probably not thinking, while he did so, that the whole history of a marriage passed through that stomach.  Birthday cakes, special meals we ate in Paris, the endless cheese-and-tomato sandwiches, street food, and salads with Michel's lemon dressing.  12-year-old scotch, the homemade hummus with too much raw garlic that you gamely ate anyway.  Pancakes with B-grade maple syrup because you heard it was better tasting than A-grade (and it was).  Raw broccoli (how could you have liked that?? But you did!).  Perrine's fideos with beans.  Ethiopian food, remember how one time I gave you my precious share of the bottom layer of injera, that had soaked up the juices of the meal? That was love! (also, I was full!).  And the cheerios that baby Ella fed you.  Hot hot sauce on our eggs. The week of unimaginative vegan meals, on a whim.  Army delicacies that I recreated in our kitchen, not quite the same, but tasty nostalgia, so you assured me.

The very last thing you ate in your whole life was a little square of dark chocolate.  You stood at the counter, totally alive, and when I offered it to you, you opened your mouth wide like a big funny baby bird, and I placed it on your tongue, and for some reason, we laughed.

I read that at the completion of the autopsy, the medical examiner places all the organs in a bag, and tucks the bag back in the body's thoracic cavity.  I think today especially of your stomach, tossed in that bag.  I think how all eating is done for you now.  I think how important was that last sandwich in the history of us.  I think, chocolate was the last thing he tasted.

1 comment:

kylie said...

A laugh over a square of chocolate is a wonderful thing to remember: ordinary and perfect all at once.