The Last of the Honey
He walked into our office carrying a giant honey-filled plastic bear.
“That one is all sugared” I replied, looking back to my computer, avoiding the question.
“Let’s just heat it up in a warm water bath, like your Dad taught you. No need to waste food.”
I didn’t respond immediately, trying to sort through my thoughts. Once I located the truth of my honey hoarding, I hesitated before replying.
“I was kind of wanting to hold onto that though…” I shifted my eyes to the ursine container, “It’s the last one.”
Seen’s eyes opened a little wider and he looked back to the bottle. “Is this the last of your Dad’s honey?”
“Yeah…well, not Dad’s honey, but the last batch of Henry honey from his bees.” Dad had not known he was going to get sick, so there was no official ‘this is my last batch’ honey.
The honey that came directly from his toil was long gone. It had been consumed with peanut butter sandwiches and in tea, baked into cookies with the willful hope that there would, of course, be more when he got better. He would go back out along the creeks and into the fields where he had stacked white wooden boxes of queens and workers, feed them, medicate them, tend to his tiny, buzzing, stinging flock. He would absolutely return to his honey shack in the fall, fill the air with the scent of sugar, yeast and burning candles as his heated spatula scraped away the waxy seal bees had planted over their soon-to-be stolen harvest. The air in that small shed would warm once again with the literal sweetness of his work. There would be more. That was what I’d learned from him my whole life; there would always be more honey.
Somewhere in the middle of everything, he passed the bees on to another generation. But it didn’t stick and the bees found a new custodian, outside of our family.
The bottle Seen was holding now, the one that had been sitting toward the back of the 2nd shelf in the pantry since before the funeral, the bottle of hardened honey that followed me from house to apartment to duplex, that bottle was from that next generation. Not his harvest, but it was the last of the honey from his hives.
“I didn’t know.” Seen said. “If that’s the case, we’ll keep it.”
I wanted to tell him that we could use it, we could heat it up the way Dad had taught me, change the hard sugar back into golden liquid. But I just turned back to my computer, holding on to a remnant from the time when we had an over-abundance of honey.