“Can we go for a walk?”
He glances up from his computer screen, and then just as quickly back down.
“yeah, give me a minute” he says in a voice far from enthusiastic.
“Okay, how long?” I ask annoyed
“What?” he asks half listening
“nothing” I say as I close the study door behind me.
I scan the dishes on the drying rack and think about how clean they are and all it took was a little scrubbing and some work, I wish my marriage was as easy to clean. I feel my nose beginning to twitch, no I refuse to cry, so I blink a few times quickly and get a hold of myself. I grab the broom for the third time today and begin to sweep the perfectly clean floor. Looking down at the non existent pile I just swept I exhale loudly.
What went wrong? When did we lose the spark? I was doing everything right, wasn't I? I kept in shape, gave him sex even when I was tired, always had dinner ready, paid all the bills on time, so what caused this? How did we end up here? I never nag, never fight, never complain, so why do I feel he resents me? He promised me he would always love me, but I don't feel loved. I feel like a burden, another responsibility, not a gift or a blessing.
I start to wipe down the table with a damp cloth, going over the same clean spot a few times in a row. He used to take me to movies, and dinner, even though we couldn't really afford it he said it was worth the money to make me happy and to have a good time together, we haven't gone to a movie since my oldest daughter Lucy died of SIDS. We both emotionally died that day, but when my second daughter Jamie was born, she somehow managed to sew our hearts back together. We have over a dozen albums of just her, we took pictures as if she was going to disappear any minute.
I make my way up the wooden stairway up to the girls rooms. I turn Jamie's doorknob half way to test it for noise, then turn it the other half just as quietly. I peek inside and see her strawberry-blond curls covering most of the pillow and making a frame around her face. I smile at how beautiful she is. I go in and kiss her forehead. Her body doesn't seem to move, doesn't respond. Fear grabs hold of me and I shake her yelling “ Wake up Jamie, wake up” tears run down my face as Jamie's frightened eyes pop open. “what's wrong mommy? Why are you crying” she begins to cry too. My husband runs into her room to find out what all the commotions about. “nothing, nothings wrong sweetheart, mommy loves you, go back to sleep” I say caressing her hair away from her face. My husband leaves the room without saying anything and I follow, closing the door behind me.
“What's is wrong with you?” he hisses loudly
to ashamed to meet his eyes I simply look at my feet and mumble “sorry.”
“how many times are you going to do this Ann, how many more times?”
I'm guessing my face expresses my confusion because his face just fell and his eyes turned into disappointment and I can see the hurt in them.
“damn it Ann, have you been taking your pills?”
“what? Which pills? I don't take pills” I speak quickly while shaking my head
“ the pills the doctor gave you Ann. Why do we need to go through this every night? Do I need to put them in your mouth for you?”
“ what are you talking about?” now I am crying harder, what is he talking about? Which pills?
“when are you going to stop waking Lucy?”
“Lucy's dead, she is dead, how dare you bring her into this!” I begin to hit his chest with my fists
“Lucy is not dead. Why do you keep saying she died? Come on Ann, how many more times do we need to go through this? Lucy and Kate are in their beds, alive and well. Why do you keep saying she died? Why?” he grabs my wrists to stop my hits and is far from happy. He is looking into my eyes as if I am a monster, a creature, the enemy.
I try again, “ No that was Jamie in the bed. Lucy was our oldest she died of SIDS, don't you remember? You have to remember. Lucy died, Lucy is dead”
“stop saying that, or she'll hear you. There is no Jamie, we don't have a daughter named Jamie. Ann we only have two daughter, both are healthy, no one died. Damn it Ann we go through this every night.”
Am I crazy? I try to replay the day we found Lucy in her crib not breathing. I try to remember her death, I try three times, but I come back blank. My entire body numbs and I stand like a statue. I feel my husbands arms wrap around me and hug me. He is crying too. “it's going to be okay Ann, I promise.”
We go into the kitchen and he stands by the sink as I pick up a damp cloth and start wiping down the table. I turn to him, but he isn't in the kitchen. I realize I am still cleaning the same spot as before. I run to the stairway but find a wall instead, I then remember I live in a one story house. I freeze trying to remember what just happened. I come back blank. I walk into his office, he looks up for a brief second, “I'll be ready in a minute” he says before I can even say anything. I leave the room in silence.