Well, I almost handled Mildred's passing the same way I did Julie's. I showed up at Rolling Meadows the same way I have all week, and headed straight to her room, like I have all week, then saw the room empty and the sad hit me all over again. I sat on the edge of her bed, and saw her pipe sitting on her nightstand. I grabbed it, and opened the drawer to grab her stash and in walked Beth.
She said, "Come on. Let's do something fun. Somebody else will clear out her things." I set the pipe down and walked out with her. She held my hand as we walked and kissed my cheek just before we made it to the main hall, where the residents were waiting.
They all spent the rest of the day trying to cheer ME up, to make sure I was happy. To keep my mind off of Mildred.
Beth and I walked to the parking lot together at the end of the day. Again, she held my hand. When we got to her car, she told me, "I'm always here for you." Then she caressed my cheek and kissed me ever so softly on the lips. Instant goosebumps. She then gave me her phone number, said, "call me, any time, if you need to talk", and she got in her car and drove away. I was still stunned. I may have been there for 10 seconds or 10 minutes, I have no idea.
I called her when I got home. She answered on the first ring. We talked for about 3 hours. I told her everything. About Julie, about how I'd gotten into drugs, sold drugs, even what happened with Rachel.
Before I knew it, I was asking her out. On a date. Nothing big, just ice cream and a walk through the park. My first date since Julie died.