Untitled – Chapter 2 page 1
The garage was empty when Clayton finally got home that evening, which meant Eric was probably staying at Andra’s. Even though father and son had a fantastic relationship, he was grateful for the time alone. He needed to process the day. He had never had a day like this at work, and with the busyness at the office, Clayton hadn’t been able to make it home for dinner. Now his stomach was letting him know–very loudly–that he had skipped a meal.
In the kitchen, there were traces everywhere that Eric had cooked. As a part of their current living arrangement, Eric cooked dinner most nights, and Clayton cleaned up the dishes. Eric did a pretty good job of keeping the stove and counters clean, but he hated washing dishes more than his mother had when she had had the same arrangement with Clayton. So even though the counters and stove were spotless, cabinet doors were ajar, the spice drawer was half opened, and the sink was piled with the pans and Eric’s dishes.
Clayton found the leftovers in the refrigerator. There was a plate with wrapped up chicken parmesan and a sticky note on top which read, “Salad in the blue bowl and brownies on the counter in the grey bin.”
Tears stung in his eyes. Again the grief of losing his wife hit him when he least expected it to. She always left notes for him on his leftovers. The last meal she ever cooked for him had been chicken parmesan. Eric didn’t know. He had been away at college, and he hadn’t had to see his mother deteriorate as quickly as she did from the cancer. It was almost as if Clayton had blinked, and she went from healthy to sick. It had only been three months from her diagnosis until he buried her. Three months to try to show her everything she meant to him, and she had done the same.
Clayton remembered that the last chicken parmesan made by Christine had been wrapped in her favorite decorative plastic wrap. A hot pink sticky note stuck to the top, “I’ve always loved cooking for you. I made you your favorite because you are my favorite.” When he finished his dinner and went to bed, she was already sleeping soundly. He kissed the top of her forehead, then quietly got in to bed not to disturb her. Hospice had to be called in the next day. She couldn’t get out of bed, and the day after, she was gone.