Breakfast with my Late Husband

By Audrey Carli

I jerked awake alone in our bed meant for two. Donning my robe, I hurried to the kitchen to make French toast in memory of my late husband David’s favorite breakfast. I again sensed the memory of his whisper in my ear at dawn: “Do you want to go to Eagle River for breakfast?”

“Yes!” I had always enjoyed our forty mile drive for breakfast at the cozy café.

Less than two hours later, David and I were seated in our favorite back booth in the midst of the fried bacon aroma. We sipped coffee. After we drizzled maple syrup over our favorite breakfast, we chatted about our future trip to Aspen, Colorado. We still felt like the newlyweds we had been when we began saving funds for our “delayed honeymoon.”

I began to worry that we may never go to Colorado. The years had taken much pep from David. He would retire in less than two years. Our son Jamie and daughter Marla were teachers now in distant cities. Each time I felt hope that our delayed honeymoon trip would happen, a new task, expense or responsibility occurred.

Lately, David felt weary. During TV commercials, he had hugged me and sighed, “Honey, even if I don’t want to ski, I’ll enjoy visiting Aspen’s little shops.”

“Sure, David. A restful vacation will be good for both of us.”

When David’s blue eyes dulled, I worried if he felt okay.

He smiled. “All I need is a nap, Honey. I know I’ll enjoy seeing the snow and mountain scenes in Colorado even if I don’t care anymore to ski.”

Worry knifed me. “David, you’ve been so weary, I’m worried. Are you okay?”

“Oh, I’m ready for a rest in Colorado, honey!” His eyes brightened with his words.

“David, don’t worry, we’ll enjoy every minute in Aspen even if we only dine at the quaint cafes. The travel agent’s brochures gave us plenty of ideas for fun!”
Soon after we added more vacation funds in our savings, David stopped enjoying meals. He explained, “I have no appetite, Honey. I don’t want to admit my back pain is worse. I just need more sleep at night.”

I hugged him and groaned, “I’m very worried about you, Honey.”

David gazed at me and sighed. “When I worried I might need medical help, I went to the doctor alone to not worry you.”

His voice lowered. “I’ll be okay…soon.”

I hugged him and my hunch was right. David’s body felt fragile in my arms. I worried that his former muscular build had become frail.

I groaned, “You need to have a thorough physical exam, David!”

“I’ll be okay, honey. We’ll go to Colorado no matter what.”

He sounded so confidant and cheerful, I believed he would soon feel better from medical care and vitamins.

While alone the next day, worry knifed. I forced cheer into myself. David and I would go more often to our local café. We liked their Friday fish fries. Hope for my beloved husband filled me. Modern medicine would give David energy!

I saw his expression tighten like my face felt. I struggled to not display fear when the gray haired doctor said he had bad news. “Your tests show much, David. I am so sorry. You have terminal pancreatic cancer.”

I had tried to cook David’s favorite food while he was home on sick leave from his teaching schedule. Maybe he could eat more for pep.

He weakened instead.

Before David could retire, our church was packed for his funeral.

Widowhood felt like a tight band around my body. It had squeezed away my life’s happiness. In my early widowhood, I again longed for our breakfast for two in Eagle River. I asked myself how I could enjoy breakfast for two when I was alone in my empty nest.

The following Saturday, I needed to visit David’s and my favorite Eagle River café even if I went alone. After a relaxing drive, I sat in David’s and my favorite back booth. The cheerful waitress was new so she did not ask about my husband’s absence. She wrote my two orders for French toast. She then added a full glass of water at the vacant side of the booth.

I soon savored my delicious, warm breakfast. The waitress had set my “delayed friend’s” French toast across the booth from me. I sighed with gladness as I savored my warm breakfast.

I sensed David’s smile across the table. His cheery conversation sounded in memories: “Delicious, Audrey, just delicious!”

As I sensed David’s imaginary nearness, I was able to enjoy my warm, syrup-drizzled breakfast. When I left the restaurant with the container holding David’s food, I knew I would enjoy his microwave-warmed breakfast for an evening snack.

During each forkful of my 7pm snack, my happy memories uplifted me. I recalled David’s deep voice: “Delicious, Audrey, just delicious!”

About this writer

  • Audrey Carli

    Audrey Carli

    Audrey Carli is from Iron River, Michigan, is a widowed mother of four. She is a speaker about easing loneliness. She has written three books and numerous family articles.

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One Response to “Breakfast with my Late Husband”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Audrey, this poignant love story touched me deeply. Wishing you peace.