Steph liked bagels, but bagels aren't much of a thing in the midwest, so she’d settled on Einstein Bros. “Not great,” she said, “but pretty good.” Today's entry is a memory, not an endorsement, and Steph even said, "You want a real bagel, they're in New York City and they're not Einstein's."

We may have eaten at Einstein Bros once or twice, but there's no real ‘atmosphere’ there, so usually we’d get bagels to go. It was something that made my lady happy, so we did it as often as we could afford. If I had the car and she was at work, maybe I’d bring her a bagel at lunch. More often, if she’d had a rough day at her office, a bagel for dinner made a bad day go away.

When Steph started having medical issues, there were more bad days to chase away, you know? So the bagels kept coming. Einstein had a location on the west side of town, a few blocks from the clinic where Steph got shots into her eye every month, and after that ordeal, it was always bagels for dinner.

That same shop was also near Madison’s main hospital, and when Steph was a patient, and the hospital food was so inedible, several times I bought the bagel and spread she wanted, and brought it to her bedside. A bagel was also her guaranteed going-away meal, on the day she was discharged. The only times she didn't get a bagel for checking out of the hospital was when she'd been at some other hospital, or, sigh ... the time she didn't check out. I owe you a bagel, sweetie.

Of course, I knew exactly what she wanted. Her first choice would be the asiago cheese bagel. Her second choice, if all the asiagos were gone, was an onion bagel. Third choice: sesame. And if all those bagels were gone, she’d still be pretty happy with just a plain bagel. 

Important: Remind them to slice the bagel, but never get it toasted at the shop, because Steph preferred to smear on the shmear and then put it in the toaster oven. Or she’d sometimes eat it cold, and still she’d be bagel-happy. 

She'd like the garden vegetable cream cheese please, or onion/chive cream cheese. When she was walking and we went in together, she always oohed and aahed over their display of side treats — cookies, muffins, pastries, etc — but she never ordered any. When she was no longer walking and instead I went into the shop without her, the bagel was always accompanied by a cookie, a muffin, or a pastry.

There was also an Einstein location on our side of town, near the grocery store where I did our shopping, and I’d usually bring home a bagel for my baby. It always made her smile, and I loved (and miss so much) seeing her smile. Without her, just driving past the bagel store always made me smile.

No smile today, though — the bagel shop on our side of town is permanently closed, and the big Einstein sign is gone. It’s silly, but seeing the building without the bagel sign made my eyes well up. I haven’t been there since Steph died, and I hate bagels so I was never going there again, but I wanted the bagel shop to be there, serving fresh hot memories, sliced.