All the firsts following the death of a loved one are so hard: the first holiday, the first birthday, the first vacation, the first family reunion.
This Friday will be a first for our family since Papa is coming for a visit and, for the first time, he'll be coming alone.
We are terribly excited about his visit, and yet we can't wrap our minds around the idea that things this time will be different. In the past, we gathered in the front yard to welcome them both. Nana would walk up our porch steps carrying the leftovers from wherever they stopped for lunch along I-95, and Papa would follow carrying their pillows and Nana's purse.
Year after year it was like this and so we can't imagine it otherwise.
This week we've caught ourselves saying Nana and Papa a lot ...
this Friday when Nana and Papa come ...
Nana and Papa are coming to your game ...
do you think Nana and Papa want to ...
I think, with over 50 years of marriage, we had stopped thinking of them as Nana and Papa, but rather as NanaandPapa ... one word, because the two never did anything without the other; they finished each other's sentences and made decisions as one.
So this first of Papa coming alone will be hard.
When I spoke with him a few days ago I told him I was planning meals -- that I was going to feed him well -- and was there anything he'd like me to fix. He said he likes pies, and so pies I will bake ... homemade crust and all. He said he has a craving for Manhattan Clam Chowder. I have never made Manhattan Clam Chowder but I will find a recipe and we will cook it together.
And since Papa also likes to stay busy, we have some projects for him: replacing recessed lighting with pendant lights; hanging a new chandelier in the master bathroom; replacing the belt on our dryer, which just broke today.
Night and Day ... Heaven and Earth ... North and South ...
Mom and Dad ...
Nana and Papa.
There are just some things that belong in pairs.
So, really, this weekend when Papa sits down to eat a slice of apple pie, Nana will be there because she wouldn't miss dessert for anything.
When Papa and I make the clam chowder, Nana will be there scribbling the recipe on a scrap of paper which she will then add to her recipe collection.
No, Nana may not be here physically, but Papa will be.
And wherever Papa is ... Nana is somewhere nearby.