Dear Walt,

I’ve done a lot of adulting the last two days, most of it involving paint. And moulding to go beneath the granite top of the bar separating the living room and kitchen. And making an appointment with an attorney to settle all the things, most pressing: getting the oil & gas royalties switched from you to me. The rest should be easy enough thanks to Harvey and the fact that we really don’t have much of value now. What’s left of the house. The vehicles.

Last night, four weeks after December 21st happened, I sat down for the first time at the table where you and I had eaten most of our evening meals together. It was nice that we’d made it a habit, as awkward and uncomfortable as it all was with folding chairs and a folding table and not enough room and paper plates and random cutlery. I hadn’t sat down there since the night of December 20th when we ate grilled sausage and green beans and mashed potatoes.

Later upstairs, I was on the couch with my Kindle and you were on the loveseat reading your phone and you texted me: Pie? I responded: There is some. You went downstairs and cut a big piece and came to sit beside me and we shared it without saying a word. You were wearing your flannel camo pants. You’d poured a bit of cream on the pie and heated it. You were lost in thought and to this day I still wonder what you were thinking as you ate. How you were feeling.

Earlier over dinner, I’d mentioned how it seemed all the house things were suddenly coming together. You said I was wrong. That they weren’t. It’s taken some time since you left but we’re back on track with everything.

And I know this because I sat down there with our daughter and son in law and went through the first floor rooms one at a time, making notes of what was left to do in each, down to the need to count how many new light switch faceplates we need.

Except for deciding what to do with the floor and putting the master bathroom to rights, I’d say we’ll be finished next month. We’re that close to having it done. It’s looking so so good.

I need to buy two interior doors because you didn’t order those for the entryway closets. A strange size or something according to our son in law. And you didn’t buy all the window sills; I don’t know why not since you bought all the baseboards. I’m ordering a dishwasher today. And I’ve already been to the store for dog food, rice, and beans. The staples around here.

I have to decide what to do about the fireplace since you rigged it to support the TV and got rid of the mantel. You didn’t like burning the gas anyway. I love it but I’ll need someone to come vet that it’s all working, having been underwater for days. I also have to buy balustrades for the stairs. And we’ll need to recarpet those since only 11 of the 16 are still covered. We’d talked about doing hardwood on them to match the floors we were planning on but now I’m too cheap.

Sounds like I’ve got my act together, right? It’s bullshit. It’s not even noon as I type this and I’ve cried through two emails, one to a friend, one from your sister. I just tell you all that I’m doing so you’ll see that though I continue to fall apart, I still manage to do the work you left. I want to do my best by you, for you. To honor all the hard work you had done on the house when you left, and all you lost during the last four months of your life.

To honor, too, all our years. To make up for my failures though that’s also bullshit because it’s too late to tell you how sorry I am for so many things. I know they’re piddly and minor but they hammer at me because they never should’ve happened. I should’ve been more aware, more attentive, a better wife when what I did was take advantage of your generosity, and yet I know that’s not the truth either. It just feels that way right now when my grieving mind wants a second chance to do everything right.