It's been, what, four years since you left. Maybe five, if you count the emptiness as you drifted away. Family, kids, grandkids; all flotsam. The world is sunny now for you even in the winter, while I shovel the driveway of the mostly dark house. 

Finally began to pack up things of yours. Clothes that are now dusty from hanging in the walk-in closet. A dresser of things I remember you wearing as I extract them one at a time to place in a well-used cardboard U-Haul moving box. The smaller ones, as they're easier to handle now that I'm old and use a cane to get around on the bad days. I now have a lot of space in the closet and a dresser to fill. I even have a whole drawer just for my socks.

The pinup photograph you gave me for my birthday twenty years ago came down today from over the bed. "The magic bed," you called it, because it was the most comfortable you ever slept on. I have some bubble wrap with the small bubbles available, so I mummify the black wood frame and stick it in a box I'd been saving in a corner over two years for this purpose. Even now, as I look at the bare white wall, there's a ghostly outline, a shadow of where you used to be. A space that will never fill in, not completely.

I take a few minutes to go look around in my office until I find a framed image that will work for now. An original Ghost in the Shell movie poster. I always had a thing for Motoko Kusanagi. The Major. She'll be one of the first things I see when I wake up.

As I return to the cluttered bedroom I see another haunting spot. The giant mirror with a couple of shelves. There you are again, ethereal in an old family portrait with all three kids. I'm surprised you haven't faded completely out of the picture like Marty from "Back to the Future". There's your short blonde hair, the silly smile, the glasses. I fight the impulse to remove the photograph for a few minutes, trying to balance out the need to not see you and wanting to see our children. I have other images of the kids without you, I decide. The kids told me they were unhappy when they were young. Two birds with one stone. The bubble wrap cocoons the memory like the Blob until you can no longer see what is in there. The photo is added to one of the boxes of clothes where it should be cushioned.

The smell of cheap Wal-mart plastic packing tape, the screech as it peels off on the tape dispenser announce the official sealing of the memories. The box is relegated to a pile that I will deliver three states away to a storage facility. The distance won't decrease the pain.

But it will have to do for now.


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