She drove his Nissan 240 SX toward Danvers on that road Governor Paul Dever had built back in the 1950’s – Route 128, a circumferential highway around Boston that now took longer to navigate than driving into Boston itself. Out the window the sky was a cloudless blue dome, and in the distance the lights of Boston gleamed like diamonds on a necklace.
Was there really such a thing as missing a person, a friend, a lover too much? Her heart told her yes, decidedly yes. She needed to get out more, put an end to her reclusive behavior, meet people, participate in life, come alive again.
So she had placed the personal ad and made the date – her first ever blind date.
But as she roared up the hill opposite the North Shore Shopping Mall, she thought again of Matt. She wiped a small tear from her eye, cursing herself for potentially spoiling her mascara. She slowed a bit and lowered the rearview mirror to observe the damage she had done.
Not bad, she thought, studying her image in the mirror. Not bad for a woman close to fifty years old now. Her auburn hair, usually pulled tight to her skull, was full to her shoulders, avoiding that look of sharp severity that came with an unflattering bun. She wore just a touch of translucent lip gloss and no other make-up or jewelry. After all, she did not want to appear too forward or too anxious, too assertive.
She glanced down at her black business suit, hemmed at a conservative knee length. She wore sturdy black shoes with low heels to lessen the impact of what she believed were otherwise shapely legs. She would appear businesslike and friendly, but not too nervous or sad.
Kay Simpson turned onto Route 62 in Danvers, heading east to the Danversport Yacht Club, now about a mile up on her right. And found herself thinking once again about Matt. Why couldn’t she put that part of her life behind her? Although she constantly strived to do so, Matt was always right there on the cusp.
They had been married at St. Joseph’s Church in Lynn on a late summer day just like this one. She remembered the boyish hank of black hair that had fallen toward his brow and that impish glint that animated his dark green eyes in his youth. He had been such a handsome man, such a dedicated, loving mate, doting on her, buying her expensive gifts, worshiping her.
And in turn, she had come to love her childhood sweetheart. They had attended St. Joseph’s Institute together from grade one to grade eight, “just friends” as he had put it in those days. But in high school, at Lynn English, friendship had turned to love and, as Frank Sinatra had so aptly phrased it, love and marriage came together like a horse and carriage.
What made this new involvement especially difficult were the ever-present memories of Matt. As she parked in the vast expanse of the Yacht Club lot, she thought of how proud she had been when Matt had attained tenure at Northeastern University. Her Matt a respected scholar, an expert in nineteenth century prose, a star in the University’s firmament, beloved and respected by his colleagues and students.
She had enjoyed the many faculty socials and the opportunity to socialize with the intelligencia, to demonstrate that Professor Simpson had a wife who could mix and talk on a wide variety of topics, even though she had never actually worked after finishing her B.S. degree. She had wanted children first and foremost, and had stayed home to raise Ray, Sheila, and Gail. Now all three lived so far distant --- in Chicago, Santa Fe, and Sarasota. She was now basically alone. As the song says, “with only the memories”.
When Matt had become sick with the cancer, she had never strayed from his side.