Getting down the stairs seemed a greater challenge each morning. Legs that once stood atop the great Mount Everest were now weak with age and heartbreak. Still, every morning at sunrise, I forced myself out of bed, clung to the rail for dear life, and shuffled down the stairs. I was so set in my routine I could do it with my eyes closed; which was convenient since I was still too stubborn to wear my glasses.
I heated the water and poured the leaves in the teapot strainer. I let it steep while I took down my favourite cup, the rock sugar, and cream. Then I waited for the sun’s rays to heat my kitchen window while the smell of bergamot filled the room. My son insists I would fall apart without my morning black tea, never mind how unhealthy the caffeine is for me. But it’s not the caffeine I crave; it’s the memories that flood through me every time I catch a whiff of bergamot.
It’s a bittersweet smell, bergamot is. I remember many late night cups of tea over nail polish and good friends. I remember Brent making me another pot while I studied for finals every bit as much as the morning cup to go on my first day of work; a day full of promise and hopes at a bright career. I remember bleary mornings that started too early, with a baby that at long last finally slept. I remember his first day of school, and his first scraped knee.
I also remember how he held my hand when they gave me the news of Brent’s accident. I remember the nights by his bed until his body gave up, and I remember the months and years of ensuing emptiness not even my baby granddaughter could fill.
The sun’s heat begins to feel unbearable and I glance at the clock in the corner. Any minute now, John will come ambling down the stairs to make his coffee and breakfast for Nataly before she goes to school. Then he’ll shake his head at me, but join me for another cup of tea. And the bergamot will seep into his heart and wake up memories of days gone by.
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