She remembered watching him sit on the couch with her daughter who was maybe 3 at the time. That meant his time was getting close. They were 24 and he would die soon. She had paused coming down the hall and watched the two of them. She was very glad now she had done that.
The couch was green and cream plaid with blue and mauve in it. Years after he died, her then-boyfriend’s dog would destroy that couch while she was at work. She still had the floral chair it matched; it was in her little reading nook and she snuggled into it with a good book as often as possible.
That evening her daughter was snuggled up close to him while he read her a Lion King book. She remembered the book specifically, too. She had it printed out at a kiosk in the mall and it was written so that her daughter seemed to be in the story. He did the voices and made her daughter laugh her precious 3 year old laugh.
She remembered his eyes that always seemed to laugh, his hair that always needed cutting, and his endearing way of making faces and raising his eyebrows at her just to make her smile, even if it was from across the room. No one could put a smile on her face as quickly as he could. No one could make her laugh as hard.
He’d come over that night to celebrate their birthdays, which were only 4 days apart. In the last couple of years they had fallen into the habit of doing that. It was only a few days after Tax Day and he’d been working like mad. He said it was nice to finally get a break. They cooked in the kitchen together, ate on the back porch and sat on the swing laughing and talking till all hours. She could not think of a night in the last 15 years that meant more to her than that one.
She remembered with regret that they had missed celebrating their 25th together. Both of them had been busy she supposed. What neither one knew was that his 25th birthday would be his last. Her throat tightened painfully when she thought about that. The last time she had seen him they had both said how they hated they had missed their 25th celebration. They would make up for it they vowed. April was right around the corner and would be there before they knew it. They would do it up right.
He died within weeks of that conversation.
He was a love without ever being a lover but more than a friend. He looked so sweet that night as he sat on her couch and she remembered how she had thought what a good father he would make one day. She supposed this was one of her favorite memories and, although it had been 16 years since she had stood in that hall and watched them, and it had been many years since that memory brought tears to her eyes, she felt a pang in the empty spot in her heart where he used to live.
Every time her birthday came around she was reminded that this was another one he did not get.