The Last Time

Jennifer Estes
4 min readSep 28, 2021
Photo of the author and Tom by the author

I made some crockpot apples and oatmeal the last week of August for Tom. His pain had become so bad that he relied on opioids for relief. He hates them and the constipation that comes with them. So I added lots of prunes. They melt away after a few hours and add some sweetness without added sugar.

I barely listened as Tom raved on and on about it being the best oatmeal he ever tasted. I was busy cleaning up and getting clocked in to work my shift for the day. I was rushed but wondered why he made such a big deal about it.

Looking back, I am sure he knew he was dying.

Had I known it would be the last breakfast I ever cooked for you, I would have sat down and enjoyed it with you. I would have looked in your eyes when you raved about how good it was and smiled. would've thanked you and told you how much I love you.

Every place I look is a reminder of you—everything reminding me of the last time.

The shirt you wore to the hospital, I saved it from the pile of laundry and hung it up in the closet, dirty. I have hugged it and held it so much it no longer smells like you.

I spent several hours reading five years' worth of text messages between us; Damn, we were sure happy. We had so much love and respect for each other. I regret that I ever took it for granted.

I can feel you close to me. I feel like you want me to remember the fun times. The times when you were healthy. We had so many adventures. We had so much fun.

All the trips, we floated down the river. We liked to go in the winter when it was mostly empty of people. We each floated our individual pontoon boats; you were fishing while floating; me taking pictures and hunting for treasures. We floated the Snake River, The Madison River, The Henry’s Fork, and The Green.

Photo by the author, floating The Snake River in Idaho

We took many road trips; California, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, and Iowa. Each trip included multiple detours, exploring along the way.

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Jennifer Estes

I am a widow, a mortician, a mom, and grandma. I write about grief, caregiving, substance use disorder, and the death care industry.