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.

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