The phone rang, and Walt looked at his wife, Nan, who had insisted they keep the landline. Just in case Theo ever tried to call.
Walt answered. “Gwen, it’s good to hear from you.”
“You sound well, Dad.” She paused. “How’s mom?”
“She agreed to an outing. A picnic under the cherry blossoms. Where we met.”
“She agreed to leave the house?”
“Luckily, she listens to her doctor and counselor occasionally. ”
“Let me know how it goes, Dad.”
Walt hung up and turned to Nan. “How about pimiento on rye for our picnic?”
Nan studied her hands. “Whatever you think.”
An hour later, they were settled under the trees. Walt attempted to hand Nan her sandwich, but she gazed upward.
“What do you know about cherry blossoms?” Nan asked. Walt’s heartbeat quickened. Nan rarely spoke to him voluntarily anymore.
“Not as much as I should, living in the cherry blossom capital.”
Nan cupped a fallen blossom. “Japanese soldiers were told they should take pride in being like the cherry blossoms. Living short, glorious lives. Theo lived a short life.”
“And also a glorious one, I’d say.” Walt attempted a smile.
“We’ll never know how glorious he could have been, Walt. You let go of his hand and lost him.”
Her eyes narrowed, and Walt silently cursed himself for thinking the blossoms would be a balm for the ever-present wound.
He began packing up the uneaten lunch. Nan had already started back to the car.
Walt phoned Gwen that evening. “It didn’t go well.”
“I’m sorry, Dad.”
“I’ll give it more time. Try again.”
“Any chance you’ve reconsidered telling her the truth? Maybe if she knew she’d been holding Theo’s hand, and he got away from her. I was there; I know.”
“It would kill her, Gwen. I knew that morning when she finally came to, I could never tell.”
“You’re a saint, Dad.”
Walt touched the fallen blossom he’d brought home. He was no saint. He just remembered the way his wife had looked and the way his heart leapt the first time he saw her under the cherry blossoms.