I've been too busy with a babe at my breast to notice that you're feeling lonely. You reach out for me, like you used to, playful and rough-handed in the best possible way, and I tuck away from your touch, because there are other things to do, you know. Because Aspen might wake, or because my skin is too glossy and sour from dried milk, or because there are dishes in the sink, laundry to be folded, hands to wash, bread to bake.
BUT I'M LUCKY, BECAUSE I'VE FELT THE WEIGHT OF LONELINESS ON MY SHOULDERS BEFORE. I CAN RECOGNIZE IT, BEFORE IT GETS TOO HEAVY TO LIFT.
You took me by the shoulders today and I fell into you and stayed there for a year, it seemed. And I felt then that we were woven so tightly together, and yet we were still fragile, too. It would be far too easy to ignore your loneliness. To tend to the babe and allow you, my love, to shrink down, grow older, grow heavy. I think this happens, sometimes. A child comes, and the love is shifted, shattered, rearranged.
BUT I REFUSE TO FORGET ABOUT YOU.
My mother came by today to see Aspen, but the little thing was sleeping soundly in our bed.
"This is good," my mother said, "now you'll have time to wash those dishes in the sink. Maybe pick up a bit, yeah?"
"I could," I said, "But I'd rather spend time with my husband."
She turned her eyes back toward the tower of stained saucers and milk-smeared glass. "When you were a baby, I would get all of my chores done when you were sleeping. Cross things off the to-do list."
And without thinking, I let resentment boil up and bubble over. "And, how did that go for you?" I spat.
I swallowed. "How did that go for you, mom?"
But I don't think she understood. She shrugged. "I got everything done," she said.
When I was a girl, I could feel the weight of my father's loneliness on my skin. From the time I was born (or maybe earlier even - I'll never know), my mother chose chores over the touch of my father's hands. She was always buzzing about, never still, always worried. Forever tending to me, and tending to supper, and tending to the spiderwebs that built up in the peak of the ceiling. But never to him.
And so, he left.
I fell into you today, and I stayed there while the babe slept in the bedroom, while the dishes grew cold in the sink, while the Earth rolled on beneath our feet. I'll never forget about you, my love. And this (oh, this! the feeling of your fingers dancing along my spine! the taste of tobacco lips, your cigar smile! a moment spent, or two, or three, skin to skin, heart to heart!) is how we stay together.