The obituary I wanted to write for you
It’s because of you that I love penguins. I have no idea why. You loved cardinals, your kitchen paintings peppered with their bright red feathers, and somehow, I chose something large and flightless for you to cultivate in me instead. I’m sorry that, after fifteen years of trying, I still couldn’t teach you how to copy and paste, and that I will never be as beautiful as you remained all your ninety-four years. But I did stop biting my nails, and I also stopped wearing crop tops, and I know you were glad for that, even if I pierced my nose. I turned your classic chicken casserole into a vegan one with cauliflower sauce, and for that, I apologize, but thank you for eating it anyway, even if our plates were always cold. I’m sorry I never understood why that bothered you, and that I’ve never owned an iron in all my life. My pillow cases are wrinkled, my bed sheets not pulled taut, and I flip my mattress by myself, though I know that worried you. You’d probably be worried that I’m quitting my job, the way you stalked your inbox every time you sent someone a card or present, waiting for the message that let you know it had arrived. Thank you for never forgetting my birthday, and for letting me spread your jewelry all over your mobile home, and for being the best shopper in my make-believe market. Thank you for microwaved bacon, air-popped popcorn, and waffles with boysenberry syrup. Your enormous television set that sat on the floor and doubled as a stereo was as good a thing as any on which to watch Full House. Your backyard kept us busy for many an afternoon, making “stew” (leaves and water) and daring each other to walk the brick-lined perimeter without falling into the “lava” (dirt). I do not know who will now stop me from eating an entire truffle at 5:00 p.m., so I don’t spoil my dinner. Chex Mix will not taste the same without having to sneak it behind your back. I hope one day, I, too, am chasing squirrels out of the yard and shoveling dirt back into gopher holes with my cane, even if doing so aggravates my asthma. I hope I’m taking Zumba classes from some Australian woman with purple hair and telling my grandkids all about it. I hope I keep my wits about me until the end.