Tell him I'm sorry.
Thomas looks up at Marlene and she smiles down at him. Cathy's always loved him, more than she'd admit. If it weren't for Thomas they never would have loved each other. He brought them together.
And look out for Thomas, okay? He likes you.
When Todd drops Cathy off, there will be no one to greet her at the door. She will touch the fresh paint; she'll think, surprised, I love it. And even more surprised, she'll think, Paul did a great job. She'll come into the house calling their names, and find them all in the den -- Paul, Adam, Sean -- waiting for her to come home.
It was time for me to go! I'm looney tunes. You're not.
They'll surround her. Sean will stand, nervous, and then sit on the arm of a chair, tears on his cheeks. Cathy will throw her arms around her husband's neck, as her brother and her son stand quiet, and staring. The cards were laid down long ago. They will surround her with love, and she will let them.
Don't screw up what you have left. Go places. Buy crap you want.
That night, after she's read the letter and had her tea, Cathy Jamison will look up, at the ceiling, and the bright day just beyond it. Paul's vision board will have grown, into a mighty growing tree, healthy and ecstatic. Marlene will sit, beautiful, smiling from the healthy trunk. Her spiky love that somehow surrounded them all. Marlene, her family, and strawberries, and Greta Garbo and pie ala mode, and Nantucket houses. Sean as a little boy, Adam at Halloween.
Looking up, Cathy will think how curious it is: She worried that it might make her sad, to see all the things she's leaving behind. And there will be a feeling, a deep expanding feeling, that for a moment feels like sadness. But it will fill her up, and spill out, and when she's finally crying she'll realize it was never sadness after all. It was gratitude. Filling her up. Surrounding her. So bright sometimes it pierces: Like annoyance, or embarrassment. Or shame.
Don't be afraid.
And when she has looked her fill, when she's so full of light she feels incandescent, Cathy will quietly make her way down the stairs. Paul will be there, twisted in the sheets on the couch he bought for her. Montana Moss. She will wrap herself in his arms; she will be surrounded. She will sleep. And in the morning, they'll wake up again. And she'll never let another kindness go unmarked.
When it's really your time to go, I'll be waiting for you. But until then, live your life as hard as you can.