#26 Flash

It had been 6 months since the day when Mark found the list in an old hoodie he was putting on for the first time that September. It wasn’t too remarkable – just a list of chores for the day, 11 months ago.

call insurance agent
buy eggs
call Kelsey’s school
drop off Jo’s car
print resume

Mark paused as he recalled the day he wrote the list. He’d just been in an accident the day before, hence the call to his insurance company. Jo was having her boss over for dinner, and needed the eggs. Kelsey had been caught smoking in the bathroom at school, and her principal wanted to speak to her father. Jo’s car was acting up, and he was tasked with getting it fixed. On top of that, he had been told a few days earlier that his temporary assignment, which he hoped would be made permanent, was ending. He’d have to get his resumé out there once more. It was just another rough day after a series of rough months in the life of the 43 year-old divorced father of 1 troubled teenager, who was trying to make it work with his fiancé of two years. The previous 6 months had been hard on her as they struggled with her parent’s deaths. Kelsey could care less, but Mark had grown to think of Jo’s parents as the ‘good’ in-laws he’d never had with his first wife.

But all of that was before he got the call that changed everything. He remembered that his phone rang while he was buying the eggs listed on the note. He could barely hear the voice on the other end as he stood in the supermarket, and he didn’t recognize the number. Finally after a few moments of exchanging whats and huhs, he figured out it was Jo. She was at the doctor’s office, and needed him to pick her up. He didn’t understand – she had his car while he drove Kelsey’s old beater. Why couldn’t she drive home? When he reached the doctor’s office, Jo’s doctor took him into her office. They exchanged pleasantries, and while they talked for at least 30 minutes, Mark couldn’t remember anything after he heard the word “cancer”.

She hung on for 5 months, but it was aggressive and it took her. Today, six months after the funeral, he found himself thinking how 11 months ago, dozens of tiny annoyances kept him aggravated and upset.  In a flash, all of that changed. Somehow during her struggle, he found a job that was sympathetic to what he was going through, allowing him to start a few weeks after the funeral. Kelsey came out of her ‘rough’ period and tomorrow he was scheduled to drop her off at school. It was hard without Jo, but he was getting through. He crumpled up the old list and threw it out as he replaced it with the shopping list of things to buy for Kelsey’s dorm. Life wasn’t less hectic now, but given the alternative he experienced in those 5 months, he was happy to have a mile-long list.

“Ready to go, Dad?”, Kelsey said as she came bounding down the stairs. “The stores might be crazy busy today!”.

“Yep, I’m ready for anything”, Mark said in reply.


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