A rare cloudless night. It's been cloudless for days now, and the air has been forcefully cold, the sky summer-bright, deceptively beautiful. The stars are close. The look of them surprises me, set just so around the neat, trim paring of a white crescent moon. So much order in the distant universe, almost as if there is a plan to it all.
The night is alive with the smell of snow, a sharp, animal, half-dangerous smell like smoke, and on every surface beneath the muted glow of street lights is a dusting of frost. It's a beautiful night, and Judi is dying.
I think of John, tripping over her oxygen line. All the things he's put up with for all the years, and the sudden void that faces him in just a few days. Such a short time, only a few days, they've said. Judi is in good spirits, but John, they told me, is devastated.
I remember the time I went to visit them alone. Judi took me aside, the smoke-yellowed line in her nose hissing. Her eyes were serious in that kindly way she always has.
You remember the last time you were here, she said. You kept trying to get Paul to be quiet, to stop talking.
Yes, Judi. I remember.
Don't do that, she said. He's a good boy. Just let him talk.
I will. I promise.