Home > Pack Up the Moon

Pack Up the Moon
Author: Kristan Higgins

 

 

1

 

 

Lauren

 


   Eight days left

   February 14


Dear Dad,


I’m dying, my husband is going to be a widower, and this has been the most wonderful year of my life.

    How’s that for surprising?

    These past few weeks . . . months . . . I’ve been feeling things changing. Remember the time we all flew to California and drove home? I think I was ten. I remember being able to feel us getting closer to the East Coast, all those miles behind us, home getting closer, even when we still had hundreds of miles to go. You could feel it. You could tell you were getting close.

    That’s where I am these days.

    But I’m too busy living to dwell on that fact. Like Red says in The Shawshank Redemption, get busy living, or get busy dying. I’m going with the first one.

    People carry a terminal diagnosis differently. I wanted to ride on its back like it was a racehorse, Dad. I think I have. I can’t say that being sick is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because I’m not an idiot. But it’s an undeniably huge part of my life . . . and I love my life. More than ever.

    Writing to you has been a way to keep you in my life after you died, Dad. You’ve been gone for eight years, but I’ve always felt you with me. That’s what I want to do for Josh. I’ve been working on my plan, and today, I finished. Kind of fitting that it’s our anniversary. Three years. I want to make today great for Josh, make him laugh, make him feel loved to the moon and back, because I don’t think we’re going to make it to our fourth.

    We’re so, so lucky. No matter what’s coming, no matter how soon.

    It’s easy to cry and even panic over this stuff. But then I look around and see everything I have, and all that joy . . . it pushes everything else away. It truly does. I’ve never been so happy in my life.

    Thanks for everything, Daddy. I’ll see you soon.

    Lauren

 

 

2

 

 

Joshua

 


   February 14

   ON THEIR THIRD wedding anniversary, Joshua Park came home to Providence, Rhode Island, from a meeting in Boston with a medical device company. They’d bought his design, and he was glad to be done being around people, and very, very glad to go back home to his wife.

   He stopped at the florist and picked up the three dozen white roses he’d ordered. This was in addition to the chocolates he’d bought from his wife’s favorite place, which he’d hidden carefully; the leather watch; a pair of blue silk pajamas; and two cards, one sappy, one funny. He did not take anniversaries lightly, no sir.

   Joshua unlocked the apartment door and found the place dark except for a trail of candles leading down the hall. Pink rose petals had been scattered on the floor. Well, well, well. Guess he wasn’t the only one who’d gone to the florist. Pebbles, their dog, was asleep on her back on the sofa.

   “Is this your work?” he asked Pebbles. Pebbles wagged her tail but didn’t open her eyes.

   He took off his shoes and shrugged off his coat, which was wet from melting sleet. Cradling the huge bouquet, he walked slowly down the hall to the master bedroom, savoring the moment, banishing the worry over knowing she’d gone out in this raw weather. Anticipation fizzed through his veins. The bedroom door was open a crack, and the room flickered with more candlelight. He pushed the door open, a smile spreading slowly across his face.

   His wife lay on the bed on her stomach, wearing nothing but a red ribbon around her waist, tied in a bow on the small of her back. Her chin was propped on her hands, her knees bent so that her heels almost touched her very lovely ass.

   “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said, her voice husky.

   “Happy anniversary.” He leaned in the doorway and just took in the sight—his wife (the word still gave him a thrill)—her dark red hair loose around her shoulders, her creamy skin glowing in the candlelight.

   “Guess what I got you,” she said.

   “I have no idea.”

   “It starts with ‘sexy’ and ends with ‘time.’”

   “Just what I wanted.” He loosened his tie. “You’re not too tired?” he asked.

   “Do I look tired? Or do I look like someone who’s about to get shagged silly?”

   He laughed. “Definitely the latter.” He went to their bed, knelt down and kissed her with all the love, gratitude, lust and happiness in his heart.

   “You taste like chocolate,” he said, pulling back a little. “Shame on you.”

   “Is it my fault you left me alone in the house with Fran’s salted caramels?” she asked. “I think we both knew what would happen.”

   “Those were hidden.”

   “Not very well. In a shoebox in a suitcase on the top shelf of the closet? Please. You’re such an amateur.”

   “You have a nose like a bloodhound.”

   “Yes, yes, talk dirty to me,” she said, laughing. “Come on. Unwrap your present and make love to your wife.”

   “Yes, ma’am,” he said, and he did, sliding his hands over her silky skin. God, he loved being married. He loved Lauren, loved this room and this bed and the fact that she’d go to the effort of lighting candles and scattering rose petals and undressing and finding a red ribbon. Her skin smelled like almonds and oranges from her shower gel. She’d painted her toenails red. All for him.

   “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he whispered against her neck.

   “Ditto. Except woman,” she said, and she started laughing, and when they kissed again, they were both smiling.

   In love wasn’t a phrase. It was how they lived, wrapped in the warm, soft blanket of mutual adoration, and in this moment, on this evening, nothing else mattered. They were untouchable, golden, immortal. He would love her the rest of his life, and he knew, with absolute certainty, that she would love him the rest of hers.

   However long or short a time that would be.

 

 

3

 

 

Joshua

 


   Twelve days later

   February 26

   WAS IT WEIRD to look for your wife at her funeral?

   But he was. He kept glancing around for Lauren, waiting for her to come in and tell him what to say to all these people, what to do during this service. Where to put his hands. How to hug back.

   She would know. That was the problem. She knew all about these things—people, for example. How to act out in the world. At her wake last night, she would’ve told him what to say as her friends cried and held on to his hand and hugged him, making him uncomfortable and stiff and sweaty. Classic spectrum problem. He didn’t like crowds. Didn’t want to hug anyone except his wife. Who was dead.

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