Fall 2005

 

 

 


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dying young
Robert Lloyd

Bernie’s breakfast never changes: instant Folgers coffee (black with sugar), instant Quaker oatmeal (whole milk and one sugar cube), and the Metro section of the Star Tribune.

At seventy, Bernie finds comfort in his routine. His wife did all of the cooking until she died two years ago. Since then, his home cooking consists of boiling water or heating something in the microwave. Thank goodness his daughter Julie brings him some real food twice a week. Unfortunately, he still has heartburn from the spaghetti she brought over last night.

After taking a sip of his coffee, he opens the newspaper to page B5. He holds up the paper, folds it back once, then folds it in half. It looks like yesterday was a slow day, only five obituaries. He reads the first one.

Anderson, Sandra. 45. Lost her courageous battle with breast cancer. Survived by her husband Kevin and twin daughters, Kathy and Kelly.

Bernie swallows a spoonful of oatmeal.

“Forty-five is too young to die.”

Flynn, David. 58. Died suddenly of a heart attack. Survived by Janet, his wife of 34 years.

“A little older, but he is still young. Aren’t people supposed to live into their eighties these days?”

Bernie finishes his oatmeal. As he sets the bowl aside, he feels a twinge of pain in his left arm.

“I’ve got to stop sleeping on my left side.”

Jennings, Alan. 22. Died of an accidental overdose. Survived by his parents, Don and Pat, and younger sister, Brenda.

“Another death by misadventure. Still, no one deserves to die at twenty-two. At that age, your life is really just beginning.”

Bernie’s heartburn seems to be getting worse, not better. He takes another swig of coffee.

Schmidt, Brittany. 6. Survived by her parents, James and Barbara, her brother Jason and her sister Brandy.

Bernie is having trouble catching his breath.

“I hope she … didn’t suffer. Six years old… just a baby. Her poor parents…”

Bernie collapses on the table, knocking his coffee cup off. It shatters when it hits the floor.

The last obituary.

Young, Bernard. Died this morning, two weeks shy of his 71st birthday. Preceded in death by his wife Linda.

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