Editor’s Note: Sometimes it’s the simple and silly that bring us the greatest memories.
It’s just a mug. I had almost forgotten that I’d hidden it all those years ago. But, recently, I uncovered the mug when Marie Kondo-folding my T-shirts.
It was Joe’s favorite mug, not because of the pale blue writing on the white background, but because it was heavy and solid. Joe was like that. Solid, dependable, the ultimate provider and protector during our 19 years together.
The morning didn’t begin until Joe had his coffee—cream, no sugar, and brewed in the electric percolator, the only pot that kept it hot enough for him. He even had balancing the cup while driving down to an art, a skill he demonstrated for me while driving down the Merritt Parkway one day on a rare occasion when it was just the two of us in the car. I can see the half grin on his face, somewhat teasing but perfectly serious.
When I rediscovered the mug in the T-shirt drawer I remembered Joe’s lips on it—those full, soft lips. I can still picture his man-perfect fingers, the ones I stared at on our first date, looped through the handle.
Joe used the mug before his final trip to the hospital. He was there for more than three weeks that last time. I drove there and back most days making sure to be home for our sons by the time they got off the school bus. There were times I was able to stay overnight in Joe’s room thanks to my mom or mother-in-law who would stay with the boys.
On a trip back home I’d managed to discover Joe’s mug with the cold coffee, unfinished, like our life together. I poured the coffee out but could not bring myself to wash the mug. I hid it instead.
If I look closely I can still see the trace of a drip of coffee down one side of the mug. The drip that might hold Joe’s DNA while the handle keeps his fingerprints. I can’t wash that away. I can’t lose him again.
Denise Melsenti had an early career as a graphic designer and then as a public school teacher. A mother and grandmother, she lives in Connecticut where she pursues her love of writing, doing artwork and, most of all, enjoying her time with her family.