Soon enough we had all settled in and were getting ready to drive out to Morgan Territory where her dad lives. It was a silent drive. It was evening now and the night chill was arriving so we all bundled up in sweaters and beanies, though we refused to change out of our shorts. We arrived and George was standing on his porch opening cans of beans and chili and corn per his usual BBQ greeting. Madeline and Sandy were there too. Maddy in the garage and Sandy in the house. Soon the mood was lively again as we built a fire in the pit, played darts, and tended the BBQ. We were all a little tipsy on wine by now. I remember sitting at the picnic table, one leg on either side of the bench when she came and sat in front of me. She leaned back into me, her hood crumpled against my neck. I new it was time for her to be going. That it would be a long, long time until I saw her again. The back of her head was nuzzled against the right side of my neck. I bent my head down and slowly took a deep breath. She smelled exactly how I remembered. Stale cigarettes and Ora perfume. But some how, over all that, the scent of her skin came through perfectly. Some how it smelled exactly how it felt. How it looked. I breathed her in as much as I could. As slow as I could and as long as I could. Then with out looking back she slowly rose to her feet and walked down the long gravel driveway. We all sat in silence, stretching our ears to hear each and every last fall of her feet until we were all just sitting. Silent.
That night during dinner her father, her mother, her brother, her sister, Dempsey, Jay, my brother and I sat around and laughed and toasted our sister, our girlfriend, our daughter and our best friend. At the end of dinner I stood in front of the table and raised my glass to toast our girl but before I could get a word out my throat swelled and I broke down sobbing. Sobbing at how ridiculous it is to raise a glass for someone who isn't there.
That's how I woke up. To a wet pillow case, a snotty nose, swollen eyes and a broken heart.