The mail brought a change.
A letter dropping into the mailbox during his morning remembering and coffee drinking ritual was a common sight. He didn't know it would be the last time. They'd been married forty-five years, had six kids who'd given them nineteen grand kids then what seemed uncountable great grands. They'd loved their morning coffee ritual until she'd died eight years before. Now only one old memory kept him trying.
He and the memory died that morning standing on the sidewalk by the mailbox. No bullet or bomb. No pain. Nothing spectacular or even visible, he just stopped living when he read the letter from his cousin Evelyn.
Jillian talked about you all morning and made me promise to send you her locket. I've never seen her take it off. She said you gave it to her and she's loved you for all those years. She died quietly...
Luck made the chain catch in his numb fingers as the locket fell through his hand. His right hand clenched the letter and both hands collapsed at his sides. Now he doesn't speak. He doesn't eat. He doesn't take care of himself.
Sixty-five years of loving his cousin flooded back into him. Giving it to her at the fair at fourteen and never telling her he'd always worn it's twin until he married. Forty-five years of occasional thoughts of her and eight lost years of "could have been except for fear of rejection" after he started wearing the locket again.
There is no fear now and they have a beautiful life together in his mind.
His kids keep him alive believing he'll come back. They search his face, knowing his mind is still alive and active and they say, “He's always been a tough old bastard."