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One Last Time
12.2.2002 by Dan, every Monday.

I stood at the front door.

The oddest part, I suppose, was that it wasn't as hard as I would have thought. Make no mistake; it was hard. Very hard. But such is the way of things.

My head turned slowly as I tried to soak up every detail of the now-empty living room, trying to make a memory that would last me the rest of my life. The darkly stained, hardwood paneling shone as always under the daylight. This also was the room where I would see my aunts, uncles, and cousins on their too-infrequent visits. This also is the room that always scared me as a young child; At night, the two metallic decorative plates hung upon the wall reflected the light from a distant room, making it seem as though a wide-eyed monster crouched in wait of unwary children.

I slowly made my way down the hallway, pausing at a bedroom door. This had always been my room for as long as I had known it. My home away from home. The bed against one wall, a bookshelf against another.

I saw it empty for the first time in my life.

My steps echoed hollowly as I walked into the room. Even the ceiling light fixture was gone. I walked to the closet, and opened the door.

Even the closet held special memories for me. The man who had built the place had never put in a wall between this closet and the closet for the next-door bedroom, resulting in a sort of “secret passage” between bedrooms. I won a lot of hide-and-seek games before my brother figured that out.

Now it too sat empty, like a short hallway with a low roof.

The kitchen was home to many a happy Thanksgiving dinner, the clatter of pots and dishes mixing with the voices of long absent relatives to fill the house with cheer. I can remember hearing that magical cacophony as my cousins, my brother, and I played video games and found ways to make idiots of ourselves, much to the irritation of those trying to cook.

All the appliances are gone, and a solitary cabinet door sits ajar, revealing its emptiness. All my cousins have children of their own.

Finally, I come to the den. This was her room, ever since it was converted from the garage. She was never very healthy in my lifetime, but always vibrant in spirit. She was almost always here, this room serving as both a bedroom and a den. I never told her, but it was my favorite room in the house, both due to the east-facing picture window and the fact that I spent most of my time with her in here.

As I stand in the cold, empty, echoing room, I wish that I had told her.

Then I realize that she already knew.

And that gives me some peace as I lock the door and drive away.

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