Henry felt the warmth of the sun's rays on his face even before he returned to the daylight world from sleep. For a moment, the touch of the sun replaced the cold before the chill overtook his body. As he awoke he once again began to realize his clothes were wet. Gradually the memories of the last few days came back along with the cold. He was not sure if the chill was from the wet clothes or the painful memories.
As he sat forward, he began rubbing his face as if to wash away the sleep that he had allowed himself. He felt guilty about having slept so soundly and not thought of her. His face felt rough on his hands from the day's growth of whiskers. He peered into the window glass at his reflection; it showed his unkept appearance from the night sleep.
As he sat getting his bearings, a knock on the door startled his world. "Who could this be so early this morning? Maybe if I don't answer they'll go away." Then came a voice as the door opened. "Dad, are you here. Why is the front door not locked?" As William came in he saw his dad still dressed as he had left him yesterday. He shook his head and handed him a cup of coffee as he sat down next to him. "Dad you have to change out of those wet clothes and get a hot shower. I don't want you catching cold." He chose his words carefully because the pneumonia that took his mother was nothing serious when it first started. But her fragile body could not fight off the effects of the illness.
Henry held the coffee in his hands and enjoyed the warm feeling. He also began to shiver with the realization of how cold he was. William helped his Dad up and removed the heavy wet coat. Slowly his dad removed the rest of his wet clothes and headed to the bathroom now filled with steam from the waiting shower. Henry closed his eyes as the hot water flowed over him. As he finished, he dried himself with a white fluffy towel. He held the towel to his face hoping for her scent, but it only had the smell of a fresh washed towel. He folded it carefully and hung it on the rack. He thought to himself how many times she had told him to put it in the hamper and not reuse it. Now he would have to remember that on his own.
From downstairs, his son called up to him. "Dad, breakfast is ready, don't let it get cold." Those same words Rose had called to him countless times in the last 48 years. As he came downstairs, his son sat at the table waiting for him to appear. On the table, one egg, two pieces of bacon and a piece of toast. Henry looked at it and then said to his son. "Am I that set in my ways that my son knows what I have for breakfast?" He just smiled as he moved the cup of coffee closer to the place where his father sat down. Neither said a word as he slowly ate part of his breakfast. After a few moments, he held the coffee cup in his hands and stared out the window towards the garden. "What do I do now? She was my world and I don't know how to live without her." Tears once again slowly ran down his face.
William leaned forward. "Dad, I am here and we will get through this." He said nothing for a moment and then reached down next to his chair and laid an envelope on the table in front of his father. On it was written, "Henry". He recognized the handwriting, it was Rose's.
He looked at his son. "What is this? I can't do this, not now, I just can't." Anger overtook his father at the appearance of the letter. "Now, you take that thing and leave me alone, I don't want to read whatever is in that envelope. Leave, please just leave me alone." William sat for a moment. Henry could see it was difficult for him as well. He placed his hand on his shoulder. "Son, whatever is in the envelope, can't it wait? Neither of us is ready to see what is inside of it."
William had closed his eyes to try and stop tears but it was of no help. "Dad, I promised her that no matter what, you and I would sit down within a few days of anything happening and open this envelope." He looked at his father's face, "She made me promise Dad, she made me promise." Henry could see what this request was doing to his son. He placed his hand on his shoulder as he sat down. "Well, we both know when she made her mind up for us to do something we better do it, let's open the letter."
Henry's hands shook as he picked up the letter and held it for a moment. He ran his fingers along his name that she had written. Without looking at his son he asked, "When did she do this?" William looked out the window before answering. "Three weeks ago she called me over to the hospital and asked me to get her some writing materials. Mom said it was time she wrote some things down. At first I gave it no mind, but when I gave her the papers she asked if I could leave her alone for awhile. That's when I realized what she was doing. When I came back she handed it to me and made me promise if anything happened I would make sure you read this soon after her last goodbye."
Henry opened the letter and inside was a single piece of paper. "My dearest Henry, I would tell you and William not to grieve, but I know that would be difficult so soon. But I know where I go, there will be no pain and my body will no longer suffer. The thought of leaving You and William is the greatest of all pains. No place can fill that emptiness. But someday, My Love, we will be together once again. I believe that with all my heart. You once promised me to do anything I asked, as long as I said 'Please my Love, do it for me.' Do you remember? Time has come for you to fulfill that promise. That promised request is waiting at the address listed below. I love you both, and the answers to your questions wait at the address. All My Love, Rose"
Henry looked at the letter and then carefully folded and placed it back inside the envelope. "Well son, your mother has called in promises that we both made. I don't think we have any choice but to do as she asked." William stood up and headed toward the door. "From the looks of this address I need to fill the truck and I'll pick you up in the morning." Henry walked over to his son and gave him a hug. Did I ever tell you, your mother and I am proud of you? See you in the morning." William closed the door and was gone. Henry ran his fingers along his name on the envelope and said to himself, "My dear sweet Rose, what are you up to?"