The Preacher Man**

October 2004 Thursday

I’d signed a lease for a new apartment a month prior and I was prepping for the move in three days. My boyfriend at the time had enlisted the help of a strong-armed friend who happened to have an SUV and they’d moved most of my packed boxes into my new space. All that was left for the movers was furniture and clothes. (I needed my entire closet for three days. I dress according to my mood.) Going home to an empty apartment with no frills and just the basic necessities bored me to tears and provided too much time to let my mind wander—especially under the circumstances.

My grandfather was sick, had been for some time, and his health was declining rapidly. My mother had more or less moved from MD to the Midwest to be with him in what we were beginning to suspect were his final days. She’d asked me to meet her in the Midwest, but I was too busy trying to get all my stuff packed to oblige her request.

“Maybe this weekend?” I’d told her. There wasn’t much left to do with apartment, I could go stay two days or overnight, then be back for Monday to move that morning with little fuss.

To keep my mind from spinning, I headed to Bed Bath & Beyond to search for wine glasses. I’d finally have a grown up apartment so it was time for grown up stemware—not the 4 fragile kind for $5.99 that I’d bought in a box previously, all of which broke within 60 days. I was an adult. I should not be drinking good wine out of juice cups. I’d loaded up a cart with vanilla candles, fluffy white bathsheets, and a few other items I thought would up my grown quotient and was standing in the stemware section when my mobile rang.

It was my Mom. I answered. Silence, then that weird empty noise when you know the line is live and no one’s saying anything, then finally, “He’s gone,” she choked out.