I Can’t Erase Our Last Grocery List

I can’t erase our last grocery list from the notes app on my phone because it feels like I’d be erasing a tiny part of him, or us, or the memory of something that happened on our last day together. It’s the same with a long-forgotten phone number he scribbled on the back of an envelope or anything else still in my possession that he’s actually written on.

In fact, in the months since his death, my husband’s things have taken on a new significance and power for me. Like an ancient talisman, an object of his that used to be inconsequential now has mystic qualities.

I first noticed this the other day when I picked up the tiny pair of scissors he used to trim the mustache he’d sported since his twenties. I wouldn’t let him shave it off, even though he threatened to on numerous occasions—mostly to get a rise out of me, I think. I smiled at the memory.

Since the scissors were expensive and easily dulled, he never wanted me to use them for anything except to cut a stray hair or thread when he was alive. So, when I picked up the tiny silver-and-black trimmers the other day to snip off the edge of a torn fingernail, I felt a pang of guilt and something else—a rush of overwhelming sadness that I was holding something of his that he was no longer around to use.

I traced one sharp blade with my finger and saw him standing in front of the bathroom mirror in the house we’d shared for so many years, meticulously using these scissors to even out a mustache that had been nearly black when me met, then salt and pepper, and finally, white.

Published by: charlesdavis

Charles Davis, MSW, is the author of a couple of scientific journal articles, some encyclopedia entries and a chapter in a nursing textbook. He was a semifinalist for the 2023 Mason Jar Press 1729 Prize in Prose. A public speaker, Davis conducts training on disability law, disability etiquette, sexuality, and learning how to navigate grief as a gay man. He’s also obsessed with writing about classic films.

Categories Gay12 Comments

12 thoughts on “I Can’t Erase Our Last Grocery List”

    1. I still haven’t erased that grocery list, and it’s been nearly three years. I still can’t read his old letters—even when they weren’t written to me. Most of our things still sit in storage in Mexico. In many ways, I’ve started to build a new life, but this isn’t one of them. They say there’s no wrong way to do this. I certainly hope that’s true. Thanks for sharing your experience with me, Charles.


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