Charles had been barely coping as it was, but when his sister passed on, all bets were off. To his credit, Charles had wished he could take on Lauren’s pain in exchange for her health and happiness; when the respirator was pulled away and she breathed her last breath, her brother took a modicum of solace in the fact that his older sibling no longer experienced the anguish and pain that he had seen in her eyes for weeks. Not long thereafter, however, his thoughts turned toward himself. He grieved over the loss, not knowing how he’d go on in the world. Who would prepare his medicine? How would he manage his time? Who would pick him up from work?
It’s been two years since her death, and this the second November. She died the day before Thanksgiving. An image that is forever etched in his mind is a gift cornucopia sitting next to her bed stand in the hospital room: candies, crackers, fruit, walnuts, packets of hot chocolate. Lauren's best friend and colleague at work had brought it, not realizing Lauren was too far gone to appreciate the gesture. When November rolls around, Charles is ever conscious of this sad day and the funeral that followed. The scent of roses is the smell of death. The holiday cheer of the season is excruciating. The chill in the air is hell. The very thought of thanksgiving, of gratitude, is anathema to him. Charles is still alone and not holding up very well. He hasn’t met a woman, someone with whom he can share a life. Years ago Lauren helped Charles in this department, giving him advice on how to behave around members of the opposite sex and what he could do increase his prospects for a date. Charles had too many hang-ups to make himself remotely attractive to women, but he appreciated his sister’s efforts nonetheless. Who knows? Maybe at this time next year Charles will have somehow moved on with his life. Time heals all wounds, they say. But if you were to observe the life of Charles these past two years, you’d agree that you just can’t bury memories in yesterday, especially when it’s November again.