... to complete some house projects.
Roger was one of those guys who thought he could build it better and cheaper.
We would walk through Pier One or some other home furniture store and he would say to me, "Oh, I could built that."
"Hey, take a picture of that. I want to make one of those."
"Yes dear." [I carried a point-n-shoot camera in my purse at all times during those days.]
And he did do pretty well with carpentry projects.
He designed his workshop area in the garage.
With his peg board.
A work table.
Simple, yes. But it was cool to me.
I thought he was awesome at it.
I probably should have told him more often how awesome I thought he was.
I was proud.
Last summer, Roger decided it would be cool to set up the aquarium he inherited from his dad.
I agreed since it might be neat to have some fish.
At least entertaining to watch the cats interact with it.
It would be his domain but I said "cool" nonetheless.
He started looking for an aquarium stand.
He looked online.
We went to pet stores.
We went to furniture stores.
Everything was expensive if it was halfway decent and the cheap stuff just looked shoddy.
So... in true Roger form he said to me one day "I could just build one."
I gave him a funny look and agreed.
"Please make sure it can hold the weight of the water."
Like normal, he started researching and designing.
He created an excel spreadsheet of course.
I do not think he could do a project without one.
He came up with the dimensions.
The required wood.
How it would need to be cut at the store to fit into the Acura.
And finally the design.
I was proud.
But this was his project I told him.
He had to do it all.
But I did help him a little.
As he started he would tease me about how I would be staining it.
"Nope, this is your project. You will stain it."
He would tease me more.
For his birthday last year, I bought him a sander.
An orbital sander.
One to use on the aquarium stand.
He used it once.
One late night last August, Roger was sawing and working but then most of the noise stopped.
I nervously opened the door to the garage to make sure he was okay.
He was fine but he had taken the whole thing apart.
It was not perfect. He was starting over.
I helped him to get it squared off (although it turned out not so square in the end).
The project started to experience some scope creep.
"Wouldn't it be cool if there was a shelf to pull out while you were working on the aquarium to hold your tools or whatever at hip level."
"Oh, and I added this shelf underneath for storage."
"Okay... whatever you want."
The night I returned home from the hospital for the last time, I noticed that stupid aquarium stand.
Sitting in pieces in his work area.
All by itself.
"What the fuck do I do with that now?"
I did not want to scrap it.
I could not just let it go.
It was an original design.
But I know pretty much nothing about carpentry.
It made me sick to look at it.
I started to hate it but yet I wanted it finished.
In the last year, many friends have touched this piece of furniture.
Sean T. Javier. Joanne. Chris. Scott. Stacy. Fernando. Aaron. Sean N. Tom. My Dad.
And yes, I ended up staining the stupid thing.
And then the last person to touch it - Mr. X.
For my birthday, Mr. X said he would complete it.
He would take it the last mile.
He took it apart after seeing some of my handy work and staining.
He decided to re-stain it the right way.
And he fixed it all.
And today, on the anniversary of my first date with Roger, it is done.
The stupid haunting thing is done.
I will move it into my family room in the next few days.
I will use it and remember my darling husband.
But there will be no aquarium.
I have not decided on the aquarium stand's exact use but I am okay with that.
If nothing else, it will be a reminder on how I am loved.
I am loved by a village.
Thank you, Roger.
It is better than any other aquarium stand like you said it would be.
Not cheaper however. But that is okay. I love the stupid thing.
Thank you to everyone who touched it and helped me with it.
Thank you to Mr. X.