Kate and Sarah picked up Lauren and Judy around five for dinner. Kate didn’t look forward to being at John’s apartment; this would be her first time there since he died. She had a key, but hadn’t felt the need to use it. As a matter of fact, she’d have to give it to Lauren to turn in to his landlord.
Spencer told her earlier that he had gone to John’s apartment manager shortly after his death and explained the situation. He had given them John’s parents information so they could notify them about getting the apartment vacated so they could rent it out again. With his key, Spencer had gotten into apartment and emptied the refrigerator and taken the pantry goods to the local food pantry. He had told Kate later, that it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. The moisture in his eyes made Kate’s eyes tear up as well. She’s not sure she could have done it and thanked Spencer at the time.
Kate held back tears once again after knocking on the apartment door. Lauren opened it and ushered them in. “Hi, Kate and Sarah, come on in. We’re just about ready.” Lauren and Judy were both in sweat pants and t-shirts for the work of packing.
“Hi.” Kate and Sarah stepped in. Kate looked around, still waiting for John to show up. She knew in her heart he was gone, but her mind still played tricks on her. She saw the sofa where they watched movies, the table where they shared meals. She gulped back the lump in her throat. Most of the walls were now bare, and boxes were scattered around the rooms, ready to be taped shut. A broom and dustpan leaned on the wall near the kitchen. His two plants resting on the living room sill were long dead and the musty air almost made it hard to breathe.
She was relieved when they left. On the way to Kate’s, Lauren sat in the back seat with Sarah, engaging her in conversation. Judy sat in the front and asked Kate questions about St Louis.
During dinner, Mrs. Kern mentioned it must be difficult for Kate to be at his place without him.
Kate swallowed a lump in her throat. She nodded, finding it hard to speak. Mrs. Kern seemed to understand. Finally, Kate said, “I still expect to see him at work or hear his voice. It’s so….final.” She spoke in a low voice, since Sarah was still in her chair chatting with Judy.
“I know what you mean. I hadn’t seen him as regularly these last two years, but it’s hard to realize I won’t see him again.” She wiped her eyes with her napkin.
Kate nodded, without saying anything.
The casserole was a big hit and even Sarah seemed to enjoy it. Even with the “green” things in it.
The conversation turned to the reason they were here. “Let me know if I can help in any way. I’d like to have some photos of us, if that’s okay.”
“Of course, take anything you’d like for you or Sarah. I have our letters we’ve written back and forth and already packed a few special things, but most of the rest is going to charity.” She was silent a minute before she added, “You don’t mind Spencer helping, do you?”
“Oh, not at all. He’s more than happy to help. He said he would be by in the morning after he picked up Sarah.”
“Perfect. With the four of us, I think we can get the furniture loaded on the rental truck coming at nine. Do you know where we can drop off the larger items?” Lauren pushed her plate back. Andrew was going to help a few hours since he had an afternoon shift this week. Kate and Spencer were both grateful for his help.
“There’s always the base, or the Goodwill that’s a few miles away.”
“Maybe we can take it to the base; that would be a great idea. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Spencer should know where the Airman’s Attic is.” The Airman’s Attic was a place where items are donated for the younger airmen who can’t always afford furniture and household goods (an obvious clue that they should be paid more by Uncle Sam). Kate finished her dinner and asked, “Who’s ready for ice cream?”
“Me!” Sarah shouted. They all laughed and spent the evening getting to know each other. Lauren read several books to Sarah which they both enjoyed. Judy and Kate cleaned up the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher. Kate took out her digital camera and snapped a couple photos of Sarah sitting on the sofa while Lauren read to her. She took some of Sarah with Judy also, and then Judy offered to take some of Kate and Sarah together. “Thank you, I appreciate that.” Kate put away the camera and said, “I’ll send you copies when I get them back.”
“That would be great, Kate. Thanks.” Lauren smiled at Kate. “I have a few from when she was younger; I’ll make copies of those and send them to you as well.”
Kate tried hiding her surprise, but said, “Thanks. I’d love to have them.” Then Kate asked Lauren if she could go ahead and take Buttons for his walk since they were here to stay with Sarah. “Of course,” Lauren answered. “I’ll even get her into her pajamas if you show me where they are.” Kate walked down to her bedroom with Lauren following her. “Her jammies are in the top drawer and diapers and wipes are here,” she pointed to the top of the dresser.
“Very well. You enjoy your walk, we’ll be fine.”
After her walk, Kate and Sarah drove her grandmother and aunt back to John’s apartment.
“Good night, Kate, and thanks for the delicious dinner. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You’re welcome. Have a good night.” Kate watched Lauren unlock the door, not leaving until she and Judy were safely inside. Kate waved and then she and Sarah drove home.
Until next time,