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Grief Wrapped In a Robe


Helen’s cotton robe felt cool in his hands as he lifted it from the hook on the back of her closet door. He turned toward their bed and brushed the soft, linen-colored material against his right cheek; memories bloomed, emotions stirred.

The bedroom was a minimalist work of art, decorated by Helen. Earth-colored pastels and low-key lighting bathed the room, and a hint of Gia Flora perfume lingered in the air. It was their modern castle keep, a place where the world was held at bay and life began.
He undressed and, with some difficulty, he gently slipped into Helen’s robe. She was petite; he was not. He walked to the bed and sat on the left edge, resting his hands on his knees, trying not to think. He closed his eyes and listened to the low murmur of the air conditioner; “womb noises,” he thought. A body ripple ran through him.
He lay back on the bed and gathered the hem of the flowing robe in his hand, swiftly bringing it to his face, and covering his head. Helen’s fragrance danced through his nostrils and into his brain, igniting pain and pleasure in his being. He cried dry tears as Helen’s robe held him.
Hours passed, a night of sleepless hours. When the morning broke, he returned to Helen’s closet and disrobed. “One day at a time,” they told him, “You just keep on one day at a time.”
He put on Helen’s little black dress and went grocery shopping.