You whistled, sure, but you couldn’t whistle well. You loved long car rides and wearing purple lipstick. You smoked more than a chimney but when you had that purple lipstick on I knew you wouldn’t put a cigarette anywhere near your mouth. You’d somehow manage to break a wineglass every night, even though you’re a painter and your hands are steadier than my mom’s, who’s part surgeon part patient. You’d cry like a baby during any movie, but your eyes were deserts when you found out about your cancer. You hated country, but honey, we lived in Texas. You kept rubber ducks in our dresser for years because you didn’t want to “waste them”. I guess you were worried about the mold. You kept redesigning our house even though you walked in every day and told me, “This is perfect”. You stopped whistling in the car when your aunt Tracy died, and I started opening the windows because the air kind of sounded like you. You stopped wearing lipstick and were always short on cash, but never short on a pack. You took a lot of naps, and stopped smiling at thunderstorms. Your chrysanthemums died a couple of weeks later. I bought you primroses, but those died, too. You lost so much weight. “It’s just a diet.” I’m not an idiot. You fell asleep in the bathtub. We switched to showers. You told me we should adopt a dog, and I agreed. Jake joined the family and you smiled again. We rode out to the park and I nearly cried when I heard your rendition of “The Stranger.” The lipstick was back, but not for long. Instead of purple, you started wearing Vaseline and ChapStick. Your lips were so dry. The hospital visits came all at once, and soon you weren’t allowed cigarettes, wine, or whistling. You argued that Jake was necessary for your treatment, and of course the doctors couldn’t argue. Nobody could argue with you anymore. You left me on July 12th and I swore I’d never love Summer again. I went home and threw out all of the rubber ducks. It took a while for things to make sense again, and when they almost did, I went for a drive. Jake jumped into your spot and I played country all the way to the park. But there was something wrong with my car. I just couldn’t roll the window up.

Alex Pearson