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"Impossible Year" • Panic! at the Disco (by M.M. Kaufman)

For Aunt Marian

I’d considered postponing the wedding. It seemed impossible to get everything done in just a month after your death. Each day there was a never ending list of tasks and appointments that were trivial but also the only thing keeping me together. Without the facial appointments, fittings, and florist meetings, I’d likely have spent every minute of every day in bed, stoned, and crying with sad shit blaring from the TV. Really, the only reason I didn’t call the wedding off was because you would have been pissed. You made it very clear in our last month together. 

Every minute of that month was spent blissfully together. Just us. Whatever we wanted to do. No one could tell us to get out of our beds in the living room, change out of our pajamas, or switch the TV from our tenth hour of The Great British Bakeoff. Maybe we never changed it because we were always losing the remote. I’d say, Did you look under your butt?, and it would always be there, and we would always laugh our heads off. The more often we found it under your butt, wrapped in the blankets of the hospital bed that had replaced the living room couch, the harder we laughed. 

I tried on my wedding dress for you in the living room that was our whole world. You bought me a dress for the wedding shower; online, of course, because you couldn’t walk anymore. It was butter yellow with a strawberry print that we both thought was cherries in the picture. Your favorite fruit. I thought I couldn’t breathe in that dress because I had to leave you for a few hours to attend the shower, but no, it’s still too tight. 

You fell asleep more and more often for longer periods of time, but when you were awake you made it clear the wedding was going to happen and it was going to be great. You said it was the last thing you wished you could do. But oh well, you said, and shrugged; you weren’t worried about us making it.You had no regrets going whenever you did, which you hoped was soon. The pain mounted by the minute. 

Each morning after you died felt impossible. I’d been thrust into a new dimension. And yet—I went to the waxing appointments. I wrote the check for the DJ. I painted the posts for the dance floor that my new father-in-law made for the backyard reception. I’d move out of your house and to the guest room of my in-laws, which, as the venue, was also the eye of the wedding storm. I couldn’t save you, so I would do all I could to make the wedding you had wanted to attend perfect.

The day before the wedding, I came back to my room, ready to crawl into bed to cry myself to sleep to another Harry Potter movie. But the TV remote was nowhere to be found. I tore the room apart. The cleaning crew had come that day, so all of my things that had been strewn about the room’s surfaces were put away, stuffed in drawers, out of sight. I threw open the door of a nightstand cabinet and there you were—a small clay jar filled with ashes. I picked you up, held you to my chest. As I waited for the deluge of tears, I saw it. The remote had been under you, under your butt, one last time. 

I’ll never forget that first time I laughed, after your death, in the new world.

M.M. Kaufman is a writer based in Georgia. She is a Fulbright Scholar and earned an MFA in the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. She is currently the Managing Editor at Rejection Letters and team member for Micro Podcast. Her fiction is published with The Normal School, Hobart, Metonym Journal, Sundog Lit,, Daily Drunk Mag, (mac)ro(mic), HAD, Olney Magazine, Pine Hills Review, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @mm_kaufman and on her website


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