Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins





1





Lauren




            Eight days left

            February 14


Dear Dad,


I’m dying, my husband is going to be a widower, and this has been the most wonderful year of my life.

                How’s that for surprising?

                These past few weeks . . . months . . . I’ve been feeling things changing. Remember the time we all flew to California and drove home? I think I was ten. I remember being able to feel us getting closer to the East Coast, all those miles behind us, home getting closer, even when we still had hundreds of miles to go. You could feel it. You could tell you were getting close.

                That’s where I am these days.

                But I’m too busy living to dwell on that fact. Like Red says in The Shawshank Redemption, get busy living, or get busy dying. I’m going with the first one.

                People carry a terminal diagnosis differently. I wanted to ride on its back like it was a racehorse, Dad. I think I have. I can’t say that being sick is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because I’m not an idiot. But it’s an undeniably huge part of my life . . . and I love my life. More than ever.

                Writing to you has been a way to keep you in my life after you died, Dad. You’ve been gone for eight years, but I’ve always felt you with me. That’s what I want to do for Josh. I’ve been working on my plan, and today, I finished. Kind of fitting that it’s our anniversary. Three years. I want to make today great for Josh, make him laugh, make him feel loved to the moon and back, because I don’t think we’re going to make it to our fourth.

                We’re so, so lucky. No matter what’s coming, no matter how soon.

                It’s easy to cry and even panic over this stuff. But then I look around and see everything I have, and all that joy . . . it pushes everything else away. It truly does. I’ve never been so happy in my life.

                Thanks for everything, Daddy. I’ll see you soon.

                Lauren





2





Joshua




            February 14

            ON THEIR THIRD wedding anniversary, Joshua Park came home to Providence, Rhode Island, from a meeting in Boston with a medical device company. They’d bought his design, and he was glad to be done being around people, and very, very glad to go back home to his wife.

            He stopped at the florist and picked up the three dozen white roses he’d ordered. This was in addition to the chocolates he’d bought from his wife’s favorite place, which he’d hidden carefully; the leather watch; a pair of blue silk pajamas; and two cards, one sappy, one funny. He did not take anniversaries lightly, no sir.

            Joshua unlocked the apartment door and found the place dark except for a trail of candles leading down the hall. Pink rose petals had been scattered on the floor. Well, well, well. Guess he wasn’t the only one who’d gone to the florist. Pebbles, their dog, was asleep on her back on the sofa.

            “Is this your work?” he asked Pebbles. Pebbles wagged her tail but didn’t open her eyes.

            He took off his shoes and shrugged off his coat, which was wet from melting sleet. Cradling the huge bouquet, he walked slowly down the hall to the master bedroom, savoring the moment, banishing the worry over knowing she’d gone out in this raw weather. Anticipation fizzed through his veins. The bedroom door was open a crack, and the room flickered with more candlelight. He pushed the door open, a smile spreading slowly across his face.