I miss Mina most in the morning and in the evening when I return home from work. Our mornings were a well-ordered routine that focused on Mina’s needs and making her comfortable before I left for the work day. She knew that Auntie Sherrie would come around mid-day to take her for a walk and feed her and give her belly rubs, but our parting in the morning was always a little sad for both of us. It’s unbearable to sit here now in this quiet “warehouse” that we once called “home,” surrounded by Mina’s things and her ashes and pictures. It’s an emptiness I’ve never experienced.

On any morning, and especially weekends, Mina used her contracted “Right To the Last Bite.” Yes, she had the right to eat the last bite of any food I was eating, as long as it didn’t contain one of the forbidden toxic foods. In the case of pizza, she had the right to eat all of the edges of the pizza crust and she never once gave up her right. She was always right near me during pizza nights.

Breakfast was a little different. Sometimes she didn’t come over to my desk – where I eat all my meals despite owning a dining table and six chairs – right away. She finished her own breakfast and sort of waited. I don’t know how she timed this, but she always walked over and sat beside me just when I was finishing my bagel, or toast, or oatmeal, or cereal, or tofu scramble, etc. She’d “sit pretty,” her eyes excited and I’d feed her from my hand or, if necessary, from the bowl or plate. This made us both stupidly happy.

Mina sitting pretty for Auntie Lolo and some cheese pizza, 11/5/09

During chemotherapy when all but one of the drugs caused her to be anorexic, I took to feeding my beloved by hand. Yes, this meant not only cooking carcass for her but also using my fingers to feed it to her. I will miss that act of intimacy and trust for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw in her eyes – trust – as I broke up the chicken or ground beef into small pieces for her and held my hand to her mouth. The sensation of her tongue and lips on my hand a she gently ate her food was so sweet. I’d talk to her as she ate and sometimes I sang silly songs to her to make her feel better and more willing to eat.

When her chemo was finished and for a few short weeks she was eating normally, I didn’t have to feed her by hand so often. But sometimes, just every couple of days or so, I’d put her food into her bowl, Mina would step over and sniff it, then step back and sit in her Sphinx pose – waiting. That was my cue to pick up her bowl, sit in front of her, and feed her by hand. Sometimes she ate her entire meal that way, and sometimes she’d finish her food while I held the bowl. She didn’t need me to feed her by hand, you see, but she wanted to experience that sweet intimacy that comes with assisting your most beloved to eat. You have no idea how much I will miss that for the rest of my life.

Today has already started off like a hard day. I didn’t sleep well because I kept hearing sounds that reminded me of when we lived in Herndon and had mice in the walls. I’m terrified of mice, as my volunteer colleagues can attest. So, I’ve been awake most of the night, anxious and listening. I have a constant headache no matter how much water I remember to drink, my vision problems are so bad when its dark that I may have to see my opthamologist. This started just after Mina’s death, and it’s getting worse every day.

I no longer eat here in the apartment. I don’t know when that will change. I don’t cook here, either. My entire life changed in one horrible moment, and I have no idea what to do.

I love you, baby girl.