A Perfect Breakfast

Livia had been up for hours already.  She’d done a load of clothes, unloaded the dishwasher, and had been in the garden cutting daffodils to set in a vase on the kitchen table.  Looking out the window at the sunrise it occurred to her she should be hungry. 

Mornings without Greg were difficult and she was aware she filled them with activity to keep from thinking.  But the sunrise caught her attention and she allowed herself to remember.

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Sunday.  Today was Sunday.  Greg would be in the kitchen separating eggs, slicing chives, and grating gruyere.  Opening the refrigerator to get the heavy cream, he would burst into song.  Probably an aria she wasn’t familiar with.  His love of opera confounded her. 

The night before, the band would have played at The B.  She’d have sat at the front table with the other wives and girlfriends. Garbed in black as befitting the main squeeze of a heavy metal guitarist.   She’d never tired of watching Greg play.  He’d had an artist soul – would throw his head back and seize from the guitar notes that made bodies move.

The last time she’d seen him play, he’d come to the table during break and asked for an Advil or Excedrin or “something to kill this damned headache.”  She hadn’t realized he was feeling bad – there was no sign of it in his performance. He was brilliant as always.

Bringing herself back to the present, she went to the refrigerator to see what there was for breakfast.  She knew she should eat.

She’d lost 17 pounds and counting missing him.

Yogurt.  Strawberry banana.  She envisioned herself eating it straight out of the family-sized carton. Standing in the kitchen.  A far cry from Greg’s lavish quiche, potatoes Lyonnaise, and berry compote.   Few people knew he had worked in a Michelin starred restaurant during college.  The pantry attendant, he wasn’t allowed to cook, but he was allowed to watch.  He soaked it all in.  How to hold a knife.  What spices to use with what.  How long to preheat a pan.

Greg was a sponge when it came to anything that caught his interest.  He was a virtuoso in the heavy metal band, a chef In the kitchen, an artist at the easel, and a wicked coder of software. 

She missed him.

His headache didn’t go away. 

For three days.  He was pale, sweating, and holding his head when she found him in his office when she got home from work.  His face contorted in pain.”

He let her drive.  A sure sign of distress. 

At the clinic, he went through triage, and they told him to have a seat.  Several hours later they were still waiting.  Tears of pain rolled down his face.  Livia went to the desk and pleaded. 

“You don’t understand,” she said.  “He’s crying.  The pain. . .

Just as she was explaining to the clerk, she heard a nurse at the double doors call his name.  She spun on her heels and went to help him. 

From there on, it was all a blur.  A nightmare.  She often woke crying. 

Dead.  Two hours later he was dead.  Her sweet man.  Guitar virtuoso.  Watercolor artist.  Chef of a perfect Sunday breakfast.  Gone. 

That quick. 

Just gone.

No chance to even say goodbye.  They were in the exam room.  He lying on the gurney.  She in the chair across the room. Texting the band to tell them Greg wouldn’t be at practice.  She noticed how quiet the room was.  Cold dread ran up her spine.  She looked at Greg.  Eyes closed, peaceful face.  She knew then he was gone. 

An aneurysm, they said.  Probably.  She refused an autopsy.

She returned to the refrigerator.  Pulled out eggs, the gruyere.   Went to the pantry and found potatoes.  Frozen berries in the freezer. She would chop chives from the pol growing by the sink. She would make Greg’s Perfect Breakfast.  She would sit at the table with a plate and flatware and a cloth napkin and remember.

Let the memories be sweet like berry compote.  Rich like quiche.  And sunny like daffodils in a blue vase on a scarred wooden table.

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