As I place the dishes in their space, and the cups in their space, I think of her. I sort the forks, knives, and two sizes of spoons. I have a system for how I put them away. Designed for efficiency. Why do I need to be efficient about this? Why do I try to be efficient about anything I do? But I order steps in my mind and whiz through them in such a logical fashion, like driving to a place you drive everyday and, at one point, lost in thought, you realize that you’ve arrived and honestly, you don’t remember how you got there. That’s how I put the dishes away.
I send a kiss and a prayer to her. She always replies quickly, but in a few syllables, then finished. Simply, “I love you.” Her response has closed the door. If I initiate with a further question, I imagine her annoyance sizzling through the inactive screen, a groan and an ‘ugh.’ So I conjure what she may or may not be doing. I look at the clock, 8:30 am, and consider what I know of her schedule. I think, ‘She’s at work…behind a desk, her face staring into a computer screen, designing pages for strangers, attending to their wishes.’ Sometimes, I send a kiss, a prayer, and a ‘how are you’ in one swoop hoping to initiate conversation. But her reply, “I love u …fine,” leaves no room for further chat. I close my heart and turn to other things, back to chores, to cleaning dishes, setting the meds, and making cream of wheat for my mother.
She doesn’t miss me like I miss her. I know this because I did pretty much the same. Busy in school and work, I only felt my own immediate world, not my family’s anymore. Although I didn’t have a message system nor a communication device snug in my pocket, I did have a phone. At that time, our conversations connected by squiggly wires hooked to sockets in the wall, rooted us to one space. Still I couldn’t see beyond the radius of me, myself, and I any more than she does now. Understanding that doesn’t make it any less painful.
My heart is empty where she resided. I walk through my days and my routines feeling a shadow of an ache, just there, behind today’s chores–a soreness that happiness can’t relieve. In that space, all my hopes of our future together twirl and bow in a frenzied dance of dreams, thousands of scenarios that never came to be…possibilities.