Fred had such conflicting emotions concerning the fact that the cherry trees weren’t blooming this year. He could have told you they weren’t going to, since they did last year, and he would have to set his watch back 15 years to when they had last done so on consecutive years. Still, stranger things had happened, and one could always hope.
Part of him didn’t mind that they hadn’t. Yes, it would have been nice to sit here and look at the trees full of bright red berries against the dark green leaves in the late afternoon sun–few things have ever been as beautiful to Fred as his cherry trees in full bloom–but it would just be another reminder that Mazie isn’t here to comment on them.
She had always been the one who had commented on them first, as they would sit here on this porch and just watch as life passed by even slower than the occasional car.
“Cherry trees sure look pretty this evening.”
“That they do; it’s gonna be a shame to have to pick them.”
“Yeah, it’s always sad to see them go, but we always enjoy the fruit.”
“That we do.”
They would sit in their soft and comfortable silence for a moment, and then Fred would say something like, “You’re looking awfully pretty too, young lady.”
Her shying away from his compliment never meant that she didn’t enjoy it.
They had had nights last year like that, and they even knew then that those would be the last. They’d had two cherry trees in roughly the same spot for most of the 40 years they’d lived here, and they knew that that would be the last year they’d get to sit and look at the blooming trees together.
Fred thought that the doctors had done as right as they could by his Mazie, but cancer’s a bitch against the most righteous and talented doctors, and sometimes the Lord needs folks more than we do.
Mazie had made it through the holidays strong enough. Fred didn’t think there had ever been a woman who enjoyed the three generations that followed behind her more than his wife did, and knowing that those would be her last holidays with them, she got into them all that much more, even pushing herself beyond her limits, cancer be damned.
It had all taken its toll however, and that, together with the mental sadness that came from its back end, sent her into the spiral that would take her on the same day Caesar died.
And so he sat here on the porch by himself this evening, not really worrying too much how to navigate this world with her gone; he didn’t have much need for navigation these days. He could navigate well enough to make it out here onto the porch, and there were plenty of cherries in the freezer from last year for him to sit here and eat.
He likes them straight from the freezer. Eating them slowly calms him, and spitting the pits over the banister always marks a bittersweet ending.