Tom and I were there when Jimmie passed. Tom held his hand and I watched.
Smelling the hospital antiseptic and listening to the hushed scurrying of nurses and aides who knew they could do no more.
When he was gone, we sat not knowing what to do until the doctor came to say the obvious.
“Why don’t we go to The Paradise for a drink?” I asked. Tom shook his head, but I knew he meant yes.
So we sat some more, nursing Bourbon and loss until I could stand it no longer. “Drinks for the house,” I yelled. After my round, Tom bought another. Then Tom said, “The next one is on Jimmie.”
One coal-skinned drinker with star-bright eyes and muscles that rippled with every gesture said, “Didn’t he die?”
I said, almost whispered, “Yes.” That was when Tom wept—until closing.
Tomorrow is the celebration of Jimmie’s life. There will be elegies and memories. Tom will not be there; he will be at The Paradise, trying to capture those starry eyes.
Jimmie would understand. I can see him. His khaki face blotched with approaching death still managing a smile, he would say, “The best way to commemorate a lost love will always be…to find a new desire.”