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For some unknown reason the DH and I were sitting on the couch doing other things while we watched football. Football. To say we never watch football is probably an understatement. The DH only watches when his home team plays, and hardly ever even then because his home team is terrible. They must have been playing though, because there was definitely football on the television.
The DH could have been drawing, or pouring over his book of 501 German verbs. If I remember correctly he was obsessed with German at that moment; and, all the man needs to learn a language is a 501 verbs book and a dictionary. I distinctly remember that I was working on another job letter. I’d just put the final touches on everything, and hit “send” for my online application. At least I assume I hit send, because I did eventually get a rejection letter from that school.
The memory isn’t all that clear because it was about then that my phone rang. When I saw that it was Dr. Phoenix I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I remembered sitting at the high butcher block table in her kitchen while Dr. Phoenix explained to me why she hated the phone. “Calling someone just seems rude. You never know what their doing, and you might be interrupting them. I prefer email because then they can respond to you on their own time.” An unexpected call from Dr. Phoenix on a Sunday. It was never going to be ‘good news.’
The shock and confusion of hearing someone else respond to my tentative “Hello?” must have registered on my face because the DH immediately muted the television. Nimue told me in a shaky voice, “Dr. Phoenix and Fender are okay.”
“What’s going on?” I demanded.
“It’s the Spawn. He’s dead.”
To this day I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation. I remember asking if I needed to come over, and what I could do. As if there was something anyone could do.
Others who were closer to Dr. Phoenix were already at her house, and others who knew Spawn better would be grieving more, would need support as well. For that night, and days to come, I did the only thing I could do – I cried.
Spawn and I rarely came into contact. In fact, it seemed impossible to me that the rosy cheeked, precocious child I met when I began my graduate work was the young man who had to bend over to hug me the last time I saw him. He had the most amazing smile. As little as I knew him, he was always kind and generous to me.
Nothing in my life, not even learning to walk again, has been as hard as seeing Dr. Phoenix’s pain – as wanting desperately to bring her peace, and knowing no one can.
All I can do is remember. Remember the child who made me laugh. The family that made me want my own. The first house I encountered that felt so much like a home that being there made it easier to breathe.
There is a a picture. Dr. Phoenix and Spawn, very young – maybe 3, in the last of the sun on a windy beach, with a dark gray sky in the background. They are laughing, smiling, and he is reaching toward someone out of the shot. It is the most perfect moment of joy. It is what I choose to remember.