When a Bottle of Costco Bourbon Is More Than Just a Bottle of Costco Bourbon

Image Credit: Courtesy
From Esquire
It's not that Mark and I were close friends.
We'd see each other in the field parking lot on the city pitch after the boys' soccer practice session while our sons half jogged and laughed like sixth graders before getting into our cars. When my younger son got sick - really sick - my wife and I would sometimes dump our older boy in the middle of the night with Mark and Mary before rushing to the hospital. Mark wished us luck and smiled as he put his hand on my son's shoulder and picked him up. Mark was tall and strong and calm and he was always smiling.
Once, after another overnight stay, our older son came home and reported that Mark had taken her on a run through the woods.
Enema? Through the forest?
Our son hated running. Didn't want to. But he said he loved that day and flew through the trees with his mate and his mate's father.
Then Mark got sick. Really sick, very quickly. Now we took in her boy, sometimes at night.
Mark died of multiple myeloma last year. One month before his 50th birthday.
A few months later, Mary came by and asked if I like bourbon.
Most nights, I told her.
Mark liked it too, she said. I didn't know that about him. She had gone through his things and given me a bottle.
BOURBON, it said on the label, in embossed letters. Above it in a black rectangle the KIRKLAND SIGNATURE. The same Kirkland logo was on a 40-ounce bag of tortilla chips that is currently in our pantry and on a half box of 5W-30 in the garage.
Does Costco make bourbon? I said.
Mary smiled and shrugged. Yes, she said. He said it was good. With some ice. I do not know.
I thanked her and said I would drink it with pride in his honor. I suggested she keep some bottles for her boys, for college graduation or something.
Two months later, I pulled Mark's Costco bourbon off the shelf as supplies were running low during a global pandemic. It read PREMIUM SMALL BATCH BOURBON, 7 YEARS OLD.
I poured something over a little ice. The cube cracked. At that moment I thought of a conversation we'd had in his driveway once about what kind of wood he was using to replace his deck. Then another lightning bolt: the time he met us on the soccer field at midnight so we could hand over our older son before we spent another tense night in the hospital with our younger one. Mark smiled at that moment.
The bourbon was smooth and just sweet enough. Rich in flavor. Easy. Well.
Huh, I thought and poured a little more.
For a few minutes as the warm drink ran through me and I introduced Mark with a smile, I felt optimistic.
Some of it was the bourbon. True. But it was Mark too.
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