It was my Christmas gift to him the second year of our marriage; black, slick leather studded with buckles that didn’t unbuckle and zippers that unzipped false pockets—a biker jacket. It had been worth sacrificing the small things to see his smile. He wore it all the time. He wore it to work and he wore it out with friends. He wore it when he rode his motorcycle and he wore it when he took our daughter to the zoo. He wore it today when he went out on his bike, had a few beers with the boys and tried to outrace the policemen home. He wore it when he hit the station wagon. He wore it when they put him into the ambulance, even though it was already too late.
Now that it is over, the emergency room staff gives me the jacket. It had been beautiful once. Pavement shredded and cut away, the blood stains the satiny black lining to heavy pitch. I hold it away from me, a ghost too new to acknowledge. One hand on my seven-month belly, the other holding our baby daughter's, I leave the emergency room; I leave the jacket--black, slick-leather, buckles, zippers. That is how I will remember it. That is how I will remember him--slipping his arms into the leather sleeves on Christmas.