One Assorted and One Corn Beef, Please

It was a normal trip to grab dinner.
We parked in the lot and walked through the mud and melting snow toward Mr. Sub.
There was the faint aroma of pot from the kids who just finished school hanging around the shop.
We walked in, my mum and me. There was only the lady who worked the shop behind the counter.
“Hello, what can I get for you?”
“One assorted on multi-grain please.”
“Cheese, lettuce, tomato?”
“Yes please and can we have pickles and green olives”
The lady looked at me, she recognized something.
“Anything else?”
“Yes, one Corn beef”
“Your dad, we haven’t seen him for a while.”
That was it. Our usual Friday order. A sub for me and him. Occasionally for mum or my sister. But mostly the the two of us. Mum was craving it today. He hadn’t made the order in two years, maybe longer since he couldn’t eat much toward the end.
Before I could respond my mum piped in.
“He passed away.”
The second that lasts a lifetime. What will happen next? Will she ask questions? Try to change the subject?
She paused and looked shocked. Her eyes apologising for asking.
I smiled reassuringly. How was she supposed to know. We had been coming to this shop since it opened. But mum rarely came to this Mr. Sub – she was normally running errands on the other side of town when she grabbed a sub.
“How long?” The woman asked.
“Two years” mum mumbled.
She quickly made the second sub. And apologised for bringing it up. I smiled and tried to say everything with one look. “It’s okay, you didn’t know. It’s been two years – we’re okay. He went peacefully. It was his time.” Too much for one look to say. But I tried.
As we walked out I felt sad. For the shop girl, for her feeling like she needed to apologise. For mum who went quiet. She had been thinking of him all day. That’s probably why she wanted this sub. Mum has finally reached that point where she can remember the good time better than the bad. Did this bring back memories of the end?

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