Friday Night Story

Marvin’s Dead

I’ve been married for 32 years- I mean, I had been. Marvin and I met in school, a junior college as it was known then. He was a funny little man, and I paid him little attention. I might never have spoken more than a few words to him, but one day going to class I spilled coffee all over him. He insisted on buying me another cup (as I said, he was a funny little man), and we talked as I drank it. We missed our class; we missed all our classes that day. We might have stayed and missed the rest of our lives, but the coffee place was closing, and they shooed us away. I wanted to go home with him, or to dinner- to prolong our moment. He smiled, and said coolly, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” And in class the next day he sat behind me, as he always did, and when class was over he slipped his hand in mine and I was his from that moment.

We went through the usual stages, lust, puppy love, then a real love, a decade of being soul mates, to a point where we were simply the deepest of friends- which may not sound like progress, but manage not to die or divorce long enough and it will make sense. Between those markers we moved in, and married, bought a house, and tried half-heartedly to have children. And now that man I shared my life with is dead.

I brought another man to his funeral. I suppose Marvin wouldn’t mind- doesn’t mind, I guess. This man is so like Marvin, in his smile, his blue eyes, the sound of his voice, and even the way he holds my hand. My eyes tear up, and I look from this other man to my husband’s empty casket.

Marvin had a severe stroke; it damaged his ability to feel. The funeral was his doctor’s idea; I was skeptical at first, but within a week I understood what he meant when he told me, “the man you loved is gone.” He remembers most things; sometimes he even remembers to say that he loves me, though we both can tell he wouldn’t know how anymore. The cruelty is that he knows what he’s lost, and even in the rare moments he smiles, he doesn’t know he’s happy.

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