ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 316: A Wealth of Years
I leave a message for Josh, asking him to call me. He’s in Lexington visiting Jodi, who has four days off.
His return call comes in late.
“We just finished a game of Monopoly. Now we’re going to play Clue. Jodi has a Christmas tree up, with ornaments from her family. Her mom and dad owned a drugstore in the small town where she grew up. The store sold everything — these ornaments, even Lionel trains.”
“Remember Thanksgiving Day when I mentioned Tish and David?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Remember I said David was on a job in Charleston, and he and Tish planned to celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, when airports wouldn’t be so crowded?”
“I know where this is going,” Josh says. “I could hear the sadness in your voice when you left your message. I knew something was up.”
I tell him.
“I’m shocked,” he says. “People work too hard. They beat themselves up. David was so young, but he’d lived a hard life. I guess all that shortened his time. I worked out on a treadmill today. I got off it. Why work myself so hard? Not good, I told myself.”
Josh talks of other deaths that shook him: his first agent’s, his best acting buddy’s. Of course, his daddy’s.
“With Daddy, we knew he was sick, but I always believed in remission. I prayed for a miracle. But I’m grateful that we had Daddy for as long as we did. He could’ve died at fifty-five. Sixty. Sixty-five. Seventy. Seventy-five.” He counts out the years as one counts out money.
Yes, we had Ernie for a long time, a wealth of years.
My little-girl self cries out: But not long enough.
My writer self says: Savor your time, Ernestina. Don’t waste it. None of us knows how much we have, but we all know it’s going to run out.