I hope you live a life you’re proud of.
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.
“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?
Misfortunes one can endure—they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s own faults—ah!—there is the sting of life.
Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
On that trip I learned something very important. Escape through travel works.
Alex Garland, The Beach
Without music, life would be a mistake.
What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.