Gadzooks, the license was gone! With my heart racing, I dropped to the couch and retraced my steps. Where was the last place I had used the license? Was there an establishment that required this extra identification in order to make a credit card purchase?
Then I remembered: one day, feeling nostalgic about all of the changes in my life, and pining for my deceased husband, I had switched the driver’s license, which was under the clear plastic slot, to another spot in my wallet. Now, instead of my government-issued face greeting me, it was a color photo of our wedding portrait.
But the driver’s license edge wasn’t peeking out from any other slot like those of my credit cards. Where had I put it? Then, I jabbed my fingers behind the photo and voila. I was certain I had put it in its own niche where it could be easily noticed and extracted, but somehow, someone -- and I am now pointing fingers -- had hidden it tightly behind the 2-x-3.
In my flight of fancy, prior to the actual airplane I was to board the next day, I decided Tommy was having a bit of fun with me. When he was alive, he often scoffed at my habit of hyper-preparation. As example, two weeks before any takeoff, I’d lay everything out in stacks next to my open suitcase. This way, I could add or delete as departure day neared.
When he’d walk past the room and spot the gaping luggage, he’d say, “We’re not going for two weeks. What’s the rush?”
“This makes it easier,” I’d say, which made sense to me, but to my casual husband, who refused to pack until the night before, or morning of, my regime deserved ridicule.
After further daydreaming, though, I decided Tommy was also trying to remind me of the trips we had taken together. He wanted to be certain I wouldn’t allow those memories to fade.
With my departed husband prodding my subconscious, I paused preparations to conjure up those long ago vacations. As if I were assembling a jigsaw puzzle, I positioned images, expressions, and other mementos side-by-side until I could see a fuller picture.
First it was words that came to mind, likely because I was grateful for the years Tommy still had speech. “Mind the gap,” I could hear him saying. We were standing on a London platform awaiting public transit. On that trip, we visited Buckingham Palace, Harrods, and other typical tourist spots. And in my revery, I also remembered, “punting on the Cam,” held over from a visit with friends in Cambridge that he enjoyed repeating for weeks after we returned home.
We toured Italy -- the Spanish Steps in Rome, the destroyed city of Pompeii, the hillside villages of the Amalfi Coast -- and dined in restaurants the guides promised were frequented by locals. I was able to capture bits and pieces, but so much of those travel memories had been slipping away with each passing year.
“Yes, those were wonderful,” I told Tommy aloud. “I’m so happy we were able to take them together. I noted that my husband, in this celestial cameo, hadn’t brought up our last mutual trip to Boston. I assumed he didn’t want to remind me of the difficulties after he had lost speech and his brain suggested to him a false bravado.
“You can’t go alone,” I remember pleading when he insisted on taking a walk from our bed-and-breakfast to nearby Jamaica Pond. I couldn’t join him for one reason or another, but he just smiled at my warning and pushed past me.
I started to cry. “Please, honey,” I said. “I’ll worry about you crossing that busy street and being late for our date. Please stay here with me.” And gratefully, he did.
Had Tommy held onto some resentment from that episode? Would that explain his current trick? No, I prefer to think my first notion was on target: my dear husband was just sending me a message, “Have a safe trip,” he was saying, “and don’t forget me.” As if...