He stands over her grave. It's Christmas. This is the first time in fifty-two years that she won't celebrate with him. He twirls the rose in his rough, tanned hands. Every day, he goes to the floral shop and buys her a red rose. Every day, he comes here to give it to her.
He places the delicate flower on her newly-dug grave, just like he has every day since she left. Then he walks over to the bed of his pick-up and lifts out a chair. He places the chair beside the brown clumps of earth.
He starts to talk, just like every day since she left. He tells her what happened yesterday; he shares news from people he saw the day before. She needs to keep up on the family.
Everything said, he gets up from the chair, leans down and scatters the petals from roses of other days on top of the dirt. He's making a blanket of roses for her.
"I love you, babe."
He walks slowly to the truck and places the chair back in its place. He'll need it again tomorrow. He gets into the cab, turns on the engine, glances at her resting place, and silently promises to return tomorrow.
We took him home-baked cookies a few weeks after she went away. He said he had lots of food in the freezer from the funeral.
"Do you want to see her picture when she was 19?" he asks. She was a beauty. No wonder he misses her.
"Here's an aerial view of the house we built together," he offers. It's a pastoral scene with outbuildings and a modest home.
"You mean she did construction?" I inquired.
"Yes, right along with me. Raised four boys, too," he offered.
We leave, somber for his loss.