Writer's Cramp entry Jan 1 2010
| I was too short to reach the high shelf in the hall closet without a stepladder, so I fetched the 2-step from the kitchen cabinet and climbed up. I was hunting the family's old Monopoly game to play with the kids; it was our way of keeping alive memories and partially assuaging some of our grief, over the six months since Jamie passed away. Monopoly had been his favorite choice to play with our four children, occasionally alternated with Scrabble, and tonight the kids had specifically requested it. New Year's Eve, and we ought to all have been together; instead, it was the four young ones, myself, and the Spirit of their Dad.
I remembered pushing the board game to the back of the shelf after Jamie's final days in Hospice, not wanting for a while to remember. I stretched out my hand but still couldn't touch it, so I tried a farther section of the shelf. On the bottom step of the ladder I could reach, but not yet see. Then my fingertips brushed against something that wasn't the ragged cardboard of our old well-used Monopoly game. It was slicker, like wrapping paper, and along the corner diagonal I could feel ribbon. Quickly I scanned in memory all the presents the children had received this year; without Jamie's income, there hadn't been as much, although our church had provided quite a few along with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner provisions and canned goods. I was certain all the presents had been given out, opened, and quietly exclaimed over, but surely this was a gift I had just found.
Climbing to the upper step, precarious and uncertain, I peeked over the shelf. There in the far left corner all the way to the wall rested the pesky elusive Monopoly box; and to its right, a package wrapped in silver, with a bright green ribbon, Jamie's favorite colors. I pulled it toward me, tears spilling down my cheekbones. I remembered it now: the fancy antique chess set I had acquired for our last Christmas together, one year ago. I couldn't recall why I had not gifted it; but then, memory returned: by Christmas that year, Jamie's brain tumor-as yet undiagnosed-had begun to alter his personality. Just before the holiday, he and I had argued, surely about something simple and irrelevant, and I had in a temper pushed his gift to the back of the closet after he had stalked out of the apartment to cool off. All the Christmas money I had that year, once the kids' gifts had been bought, had gone for this ivory chess set for my beloved husband. It was to be our last Christmas together, ever, and in my anger, I had pushed it aside and forgotten it. I collapsed onto the stepladder in tears for all we had lost: the kids, Jamie, and I.
Word Count: 481