If I Had Known This Was Goodbye

Friday, September 4, 1997 – Tuesday, September 10, 1997

The last time I saw Dani, she greeted me by thrusting diapers into my arms.

She was wearing a football T-shirt – Brant’s favorite team. If she had been on her way to a BBQ at Brant’s place, she would have been celebrating Caleb’s team. It was an almost poetic, icing on the two-tier cake of Brant and Caleb’s friendship – the fact they the rooted for rival teams – Washington vs. Dallas! The funny thing was that Dani hated football & here she was wearing a Dallas shirt – not because it was comfy, but because she liked to jostle with the boys.

In fact, this whole weekend was a controversy. Dani insisted on going up to Northern Virginia for some convention – she paraded around all of those conventions selling homemade beauty products, putting her business Bachelor’s degree to good use, striving to someday recruit her own Avon ladies. Caleb wanted her to go on a weekend when he wasn’t working on his dissertation. The argument resulted in me standing there, holding a pack of diapers.

“So, you’re potty-training my daughter this weekend,” she said as she sipped on a straw attached to a chocolate milk jug.

“Darling, you’re hilarious.”

She jammed the straw into the jug, threw the cap on, and placed the milk back in the fridge.

“That’s gross,” I said.

“Her germs are my germs,” Dani said. “Believe it or not, that beautiful baby came out of this tiny body.” She did a little spin.

“Junk food and all.”

“I will smack you. You know that,” she said. “But seriously – you, Allie, potty-seat.” She had mastered the subject change when she herself was in diapers.

“Sounds like a riveting weekend.”

“Just think – less diapers for you to change. Everybody wins. Now – hug sweetie, I gotta go,” Dani said and squeezed her arms around me. “She’s napping in the new bed. I’d wait for her to wake before taking her to your place.”

“Good luck,” I said.

She blew me a kiss, “Sunday night, Mer, thanks again.”

By 6pm on Tuesday I began to worry. This was the time before cell phones and Dani didn’t like to carry around spare change; she preferred to keep it in a jar behind the front door next to the shoe basket. If her car had broken down, she wouldn’t have the coins to use a payphone. That was the reasoning I used into the early hours of Monday morning.

Between lunchtime and supper I convinced myself that she had said, “Monday night, Mer.”

During the daylight hours of Tuesday, I told myself that my anxious pacing was due to cabin fever and was not a sign of worry.

At 6pm on Tuesday night I remembered the altercation. The memory popped into my mind like the Bing of a toaster oven. I wrestled Allie into a onesie, sans diaper, and rushed over to see Brant at the precinct.

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