Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Phantom Pee

I awoke to little hiccups coming from the baby monitor next to my bed. I quickly turned it off before the full fledge wailing could begin. It was three o’clock as I hauled myself reluctantly out of bed and padded in my bare feet down the hall to the kitchen. Sure enough, as I made a bottle of formula my baby girl was giving it her operatic best. I grabbed a bottle of water for myself and put that and the baby bottle on a table beside the easy chair in the living room then went and got Tori. After changing her diaper I settled down in the chair holding her close and began to feed her by the glow of the light.

The whole house was asleep except for us girls. The air conditioner wasn’t running and neither was the fridge, everything was silent. Then I heard it; the distinct sound of someone peeing on the floor next to my chair. Do you know how loud that is at three in the morning? With my heart trying to climb up my tongue I looked around to see what in the world was peeing on my carpet. Was it a dog or even a pesky raccoon that had found its way in? There was nothing there and besides I would have heard it moving around long before it decided to lift a leg. Completely freaked out, I stood up, set Tori down in the chair and turned on the lamp. There it was – a wet spot right there on the carpet!

For a moment my brain was frozen. There was no rational explanation I could come up with besides a mischievous male ghost relieving his phantom bladder. Then I saw the wetness on the table and figured it out. My water bottle had a very small leak in it. When I took off the cap it released pressure allowing the water to slowly leak out and pool onto the table. When the puddle reached the edge it all spilled out on the floor sounding like Niagra falls in the early morning silence. Boy was I relieved. I mean literally, I had to make a trip to the bathroom.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


She lay back in the tub with her ears under the water. When she was a girl she used to like this sensation of not hearing anything but the sound of her own heartbeat – utterly cut off from the rest of the world. Her knees were sticking up out of the water and she stared at the slowly moving line on her jeans that separated the dark wet denim from the dry. A memory came to her from long ago of when her son was young and had hit a baseball into the windshield of the car. The glass had remained intact as one piece but was shattered into a thousand pieces.

Suddenly she became aware of her husband standing over her. With her head under the water she couldn’t understand what he was saying but she saw the question in his eyes and replied, “I’m trying to see what it feels like to have completely lost my mind.” The alarm in his eyes and the way she knew she must look struck some perverse funny bone in her and she snorted. Her husband sat down on the bathroom floor and together their laughter echoed off the tile walls.

This is how they had made it through 32 years of marriage and the raising of their kids – by laughing together, at each other, and at themselves. They would get through this diagnosis with laughter. But then the realization struck her that the future would change her husband into her caregiver and her into his burden. Her giggles then changed into hiccups as she sat up in tub and wrapped herself around the sobs erupting from her soul.

When she finally cried herself into exhaustion, she realized the comforting pressure of his big hand on her back and the water draining from the tub. He helped her stand up and get out of her wet clothes. Stepping from the tub into the towel he held for her, she left her clothes in a wet pile in the tub and followed him to their bed.

Beyond words but needing to reaffirm their connection to each other, they made love slowly and tentatively. Afterward she lay with her back to him, his arms around her, their breathing as one. She still felt anxious and alone. As complete exhaustion pulled her down into sleep she again remembered the ruined windshield, whole but shattered and thought she heard the soft plink of one of the pieces falling out.