Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hug someone you love today

Last night, something like 300,000 people were a 20 minute subway-ride from our apartment, shivering and celebrating 2009 with Dick Clark's mummified face. Our friends from college were in bars, drinking and smoking and laughing. The five people that we know in New York (count 'em!) were at loft parties or private parties or in their apartments, watching those suckers freeze in Times Square.

We weren't with any of them. Instead, we were in our apartment with a bottle of champagne, pigs-in-a-blanket, steamed shrimp, and chocolate chip cookies. We also had one guest: our 52 year old neighbor, "Rose." Normally Rose would be in her own apartment with her husband, hosting her own guests. She would be steaming her own shrimp and serving her own drinks. But exactly 2 weeks ago, Rose's husband died. They were married for 27 years.

This is the same neighbor who asked us to help move her husband to the bed when he fell, a few short weeks ago. Apparently he had been diagnosed with skin cancer last year, but was relatively okay until he developed brain tumors in November. From November to December was a fast downhill spiral, and he was gone much sooner than she expected. She buried him on a Monday. The following Friday, she spent their wedding anniversary alone.

Before she came over on New Year's Eve, she was filling out insurance papers to cover the cost of her husband's burial. She was moving the computer out of his bedroom, so she wouldn't have to be in there so often. She was choosing which of his clothes to give away, and which she wanted to keep just a little while longer.

When she came over, we talked about many things, but especially her husband. They met in India while he was on an extended business trip. She was 25, he was 46. He brought her home to the States, and they built their own business from the ground-up. They traveled all over the world for his job. He didn't cook, so she learned to cook for him. During the last months of his life, Rose said she was sure to make him something he would love for every meal. Yesterday, she brought over a few of her cookbooks for us to have. Some recipes were marked with an star, and I can't help but imagine him sitting at a table with Rose, telling her how much he liked her coconut-lemon cake, and would she make it again sometime?

Rose came over around 9, and stayed until 11:50, when she politely excused herself despite our insistence that she stay and have champagne with us at midnight. Maybe she was tired and didn't really care about waiting until midnight. Maybe she didn't want to sit with a couple while watching all of the other couples kiss on television. Or maybe she just wanted to sit on the couch that she had shared with her husband for so many years, and wish him a happy new year one last time.


Lucy said...

I can only imagine what you did for that woman last night. What a great start to the Year!

White Trash Academic said...

Phoebe you are amazing! It was wonderful of you to invite her over when it sounds like you and the bf were set to enjoy a romantic NYE alone. Please keep us posted on how she is doing and Happy New Year!

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