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It’s been a little over a year since my wife died.
Every evening, alone in Central Park, I run laps around the Reservoir. That’s the only time I allow myself to think about Kelly. I don’t count how many laps I run; I just run in the darkness until I can’t go on anymore, thinking about the woman that she was, and about our life together.
She was a kind woman. Helpful to people in need, always willing to help friends in a jam. And was she sexy? Lord, she was sexy. In Manhattan, where professional models run around like squirrels in a park, they would eye her enviously. It wasn’t just that Kelly was pretty; there was more to her than just being pretty. The way she dressed and carried herself, the way she spoke and laughed: she had grace, you know what I mean? And to top it off, she was whip-smart, too. Running rings around her peers. She was making a name for herself, a name that was already beginning to shine.
Then she died.
She was only 26. Not fair. I don’t know how such a thing can happen. We’d been married for four years—we were waiting for our first child to be born—when Kelly was diagnosed.
And then she died. There weren’t any last-minute cures, no eleventh-hour salvation. She got sick, and then sicker, and then she died.
And I was there. She died in my arms, as the brain cancer stole the last of her. In the end, she was hallucinating that we were both walking on a beach, hand in hand. A beach with sand as fine as flour, a turquoise sea that glittered in the sunlight, and a sky as big and as blue as the world.
That was the vision she was dreaming of when she died.
I want to believe that there was a reason for this. As I run through the cold and cruddy night, I want to believe that she did not die in vain. She was sexy, and she was beautiful, and she was smart, and she had the world at her feet.
But most of all, she was kind. It was in her voice, in her touch, in her smile. It wasn’t that fake sort of kindness, the Look-at-me-I’m-being-so-kind-to-you sort of fakery. She was true-blue. She was decent. She never spoke badly about anyone; not even about people who deserved it. She never did anything behind someone’s back; she was always up-front and honest.
She made me a better man. I didn’t think that was part of our deal, when she picked me.
Because like she always teased me, she picked me.
“Yes you did,” I’d tell her. “But I was your first pick.”
“Yes you were,” she’d agree. “You were my very first pick.”