I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sappy Memories

So, I was driving home last night, full of memories of Laura that left me feeling both sad and happy. I then started mentally combining the two words, and realized that the fusion of sad and happy produces sappy. So, I'm going to post some sappy memories. (And, yes, for the linguisticly picky, I know that sappy isn't literally defined as a mixture of sad and happy, and that the word I really should be using is bittersweet. But, if you want to write about bittersweet memories, get your own blog. I'm sticking with sappy.)

Several things triggered the memory. I had gone out to dinner with Greg in Greensboro, and on the way home I was thinking about how I would tell Laura about the restaurant. Because for the last four years, I've had this Laura box in my head where I would put certain bits of news that would be of interest to her... and now I don't know how to empty that box. For instance, at work this week, I've encountered the normal day to day frustrations, stuff I used to come home and vent about for ten minutes when Laura would ask, "How was your day," and I'd answer, "Well, let me tell you." I miss that. But, back to the restaurant: Laura was vegetarian, so anytime I'd go out to eat without her, I'd always check out the vegetarian selections to see if it might be someplace she could eat at. I got all excited last night at La Fiesta when I saw that they had a very large vegetarian menu--this was going to be someplace she would love! My enthusiasm, naturally, was followed by a strong sense of loss, not just of missing Laura, but for a missed opportunity. I loved making Laura happy, to seek and the little pleasures in life she might partake in. I felt like I'd screwed up by not finding this place sooner. It was my job, dammit, to increase her joy. I'd been slack in my duties.

Later, Greg and I drove past a Sonic restaurant. Another memory. Sometime in March, or maybe even the beginning of April, Laura had been feeling sick, but also felt bored, trapped in the house. She didn't have the stamina to get up and walk anywhere. A trip to Target would have been too much for her--she didn't even feel like going out to eat. But I proposed that we could go for a drive in the country, take a look at the flowers blooming. It turned out to be a very lovely afternoon. The Carolina countryside was very cooperative, with fields of purple and yellow blossoms over rolling hills as we drove around Saxapahaw. We passed over a terrific, rocky river. We stopped at a fruit stand--she stayed in the car but I went in and bought her a bottle of mineral water which she enjoyed. Then, on the meandering path home, we discovered a Sonic in Mebane, and Laura lit up. She wanted some of thier cheesy tater tots. Naturally, I got her some. It was the last thing I ever saw her really ravenous for, except maybe pickles.

Ah, yes, pickles. If there was a secret to Laura and me making it as a couple, it was our mutual appreciation of really good dills. Over the years, we've sampled every brand available for sale in North Carolina. Laura had a lot of appetite problems on the various chemos. But, until the end, she would never turn down a pickle. The cruel irony is, pickles have, like, five calories. You can starve to death if you make them the foundation of your diet. I should have known she was closer to the end than I did when, the last day I saw her awake in the hospital, I asked if she wanted me to smuggle her in a pickle, and she turned it down. Now I have a jar of pickles in the fridge and every time I eat one I think about her. So, I think about her a lot.

And, as long as we're on the food theme, I wonder when I will have the courage to go back to Tsing Tao. It was our favorite Chinese restaurant. And, any time I've gone in there alone, the lady who runs the place always asks me where my wife is. I've never corrected her. It always made me happy, that the little Chinese restaurant in the strip mall was a kind of alternate dimension, a separate reality where we were married, and we'd never even heard of cancer, and the hot and sour soup really was hot and sour.

Sappy, yes?

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