Reprieve

My friend Murray, a generous, gentle spirit, light of heart and full of heart. At least that's what I thought. He liked me to recommend books for him even though it made him nervous because I'd always recommend something edgy. The last book I recommended was Bonnie Nazdam's Lamb, a compelling and complex story with a protagonist on shaky moral ground. Murray told me he was disturbed at the sympathy he mustered for David Lamb, a middle-aged man who convinces an awkward girl to road trip with him. I know, I'd told Murray. Isn't that cool? He laughed his easy laugh, the one that always made me laugh and always made me love him.

Murray was a friend I took completely for granted. I'd see him mostly when I ran into him unexpectedly or when we were at each other's family celebrations. The last time I saw him, he came to an open house to meet my baby granddaughter. It was one of those gatherings where the host never gets to speak to any one person for more than a few minutes. I don't even remember talking to Murray, but I remember thinking he looked good, lost that extra bit of weight he was always trying to shed. I don't think he said goodbye to me.

After his funeral, my life resumed. I ran errands, attended meetings, took the dog to the vet. And I looked for that pause in my day when I coax my mind and my heart to be on reprieve.

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...