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