It took two-and-a-half weeks to unpack
Finding a new routine without you needn’t be a race; putting away the suitcase would make our good-bye more definitive.
I brought many of your belongings back to New York, my one-bedroom now a grotto awaiting the echo of your hello’s …
Your closet was a basket of cotton memories in lavender sachets: I was a teenager when you wore the flowered blouse with mandarin collar in gold, peach, black, and gray.
As I buttoned the sleeve, my mind activated the scene: You’re on the couch with Dolores from up the street, your friend with the long nails painted pearly white, bangles on her wrists, chime; you both holding a cigarette and glasses of white wine.
Your vanity was filled with creams and makeup, your effervescence a mix of berry flirtations, silver-spun rose, champagne. Jars and lipstick cases. Your fingerprints, will be safe with me
Wanted you to know I have the wedding rings: The diamond sits high on yellow gold. I don’t wear them every day, but when I do I feel your hand over mine, a weight descending from somewhere I can’t place.
Over the years, you gave me your heart and I returned the favor; the pink crystal necklace you wore so often, the amber I bought for each of us - connection from afar. The one with the teeny rubies, I have that heart now, too.
How could we forget the piece I bought for you in Dublin, the one with Celtic circles and four-leaf clovers:
I wore it to the funeral with another necklace appearing that morning on my dresser, a blue amulet of Mary. You must have put it there, — I don’t remember.
On that cold day at the cemetery, the maternal metal kept me warm and the clovers wished you well, as I watched men with squeaky pulleys lower your casket into the ground.
Hardly an occasion went unrecorded by your hands . . .
The photo of me standing as a toddler in a light blue dress, holding the telephone, is next to one of you and Dad, among sympathy cards.
In another I am six, on a chair in the living room, my posture correct, my hands folded on my lap, I don’t remember the occasion; given the green polka dots, you had dressed me for spring.
As I got older people noted our resemblance: Just days before you left, you told me I was beautiful after coming downstairs, fresh after a shower, with red lipstick on.
“What’s Left” is a poem in Sally O’Dowd’s series Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss. Louisa L’s artwork also appears in “Dancing to Fleetwood Mac on Vinyl.” You can view other examples of Louisa’s exceptional work at http://louisal.com and Instagram @louisl1 .