Monday 26th July 2010
One year ago.
Suse rises a few minutes before I do. She quietly potters around the kitchen. I go to the toilet, still in a sleep haze. I walk into the bathroom, and then I see it.
The negative test.
We’ve been good. For the last three weeks, we’ve been good. We’ve enjoyed ourselves and loved each other. I’ve been out of town for two of those weeks, and there’s a cliché reserved for just such occasions.
But the fact is, we’ve been in a good place.
Our counsellor, June, says that we are a couple of extremes. By that, she doesn’t mean that we are two wild humans. She means that, as a couple, we swing on a pendulum. When we’re on an upswing, and things are good, they’re really good. But when they’re not… they’re not.
I walk into the living room. There I see Suse, her face tired and drawn. She sits in front of morning television, chewing on porridge. She doesn’t even pretend to be watching.
“Did you see?” At first I can’t tell if it was her who spoke. But there’s no one else around.
I nod. I walk up to her and take her into a hug. She relents, and I feel her body melt into mine.
“Even though it was the blocked side, I still had to hope. Each time, every single time, I can’t help it.”
“I know, love,” I say, “I know. Do you think I didn’t know what the pimples were about? Do you think I didn’t think it too?”
She sighs, exhaling softly.
“Am I that obvious?”
“Well if you are, then I am too.”
I look at her eyes, drawn and sad. It’s like I’m watching the pendulum itself, it’s swinging back that quickly.
* * * * *
I sit in the study, completing chores. Nothing particular, just tidying up things from last week.
And then I hear it.
The soft sobs from the next room.
I walk out down the hall, and see my wife, in the same place that she was this morning. Half the day has gone, and lots has happened. But in mind, she’s remained here the whole day, just like this.
She lets out muted sobs, quiet helpless sobs. I’ve seen my wife cry a lot in the last six months. I’ve cried a lot myself. I never thought I’d become a crying expert, but I do know the character of my wife’s pain. And here, right now, there is no anguish, no sharpness, no anger to her pain. Instead, I see a softness, a hollowness, an emptyness. Quiet, tired hiccups.
These are her sorrow tears.
She sits, her head lilted to the side, her shoulders fallen, staring at the blank screen ahead. I walk to her. She barely sees me. I slide onto our couch, and I take her head, resting it against my shoulder. She falls into me. It never ceases to surprise me how well we fit. Me, all short limbs and stocky Cornish trunk, her, long flowing gracious appendages. And yet, we fit very snugly. Somehow, I was designed to fit this glorious woman.
She buries her head in further, her tears blotting against my shirt. We sit there like this, for about twenty minutes. Her tears flow smoothly as I stroke her hair. I never thought I could be this comfortable around someone else’s grief. I guess you learn it when you have to.
After a while, her shoulders stop bobbing, and the streams dry up. Like I said, these are her sorrow tears. There is no crescendo here. Eventually they dissolve to nothing.
“What are you thinking?” I whisper.
“That I’m a barren old woman.”
“Nothing’s changed, honey,” I say. “Nothing’s changed. We’re in the same place as we were yesterday.”
“I know,” she whispers, a couple more sobs breaking through. “It’s just harder to see that today.”
My own tear falls, as the pendulum brushes my cheek on the way past.
* * * * *