Sometimes I look over and see the silhouette of B moving against the morning sky, purple and pink, rising over the peaks of the mountains as morning escapes from yesterday’s grip. I see a man, handsome still, in the middle of mid-life crisis trying to make his way towards tomorrow and whatever that looks like; a life he can no longer define nor see for the house of cards he built has fallen and taken him down with it.
I sneak a peak, my eyes heavy with sleep, as his pants slide over his lean legs, over that smoothed over scar that he got when riding his bicycle, pedaling as fast as he could before flying over the handlebars and landing on a sharp rock along the creek. That was a 5 stitcher and he wears it like he owns it because it is now part of who he is and has been for some time. With a swift tug on his pants I see what I imagine to be that same sense of determination and the speed with which he rode that bike but using it now so that he doesn’t have to slow down and make those hard decisions. About himself. About me. About what he is doing or not doing with his life.
As I lay in bed I hear the coffee pot downstairs start to gurgle and come to life. He sits quietly reading the Bible until I hear the pull of the yoga mat and the PLOP it makes as it lands squarely on the floor. Now he will exercise for 12 minutes. No more, no less. Then in go two slices of toast which magically pop up and in 2.5 seconds they will be slathered in warmed butter topped by a generous helping of tart thick lemon curd. The coffee cup I bought him in Michigan drops softly to the counter like water on stone and the refrigerator door softly opens, the coffee creamer in the impossible to reach left hand corner. It never fails.
Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to leave him? Would I miss him alone or would it be all the familiar sounds that accompany his particular way of doing things…fast, precise, and predictable that I might someday long for? Or are both so interwoven one cannot be thought of without being accompanied by the other? Would I think of him every time I heard a toaster pop from now until eternity? Eternity is a long time, after all. Is it something as simple as a toaster that makes you stay?
Leaving seems like such an easy thing to do. We leave our children, we leave our friends, and we leave our co-workers but most of the time we have the luxury of knowing we are coming back. How do you put one foot in front of the other if you are closing the door forever? Leaving scares me because I know without a doubt that if I left the loss would be immense, carrying me downstream like a river that has jumped its banks. Can you grab onto something to save yourself when you are being swept away so fast or do you just go under? Do you scratch, claw, and cling until your own blood is shed before moving on or do you step lightly onto the nearest rock with your dignity and grace intact?
Of course, I also know that if I left there would also be relief. Not in leaving him per se but in finally being out of the limbo that has wrapped itself around my windpipe for the past 9 months, squeezing so tight that air can neither come nor go…stuck somewhere in that thin membrane that separates life from death. To taste the crisp air and to rid my lungs of the stale would be a blessing.
Yet even with all the questions and angst, I know that I would miss B desperately. His humor, how he takes care of my sexual needs before he worries about his own, and the shine in his eyes as he watches our children grow into themselves. I would miss all that we have shared and created…the houses we built, the closeness we had that once knew no bounds, and the walks we have taken through fallow fields in order to start anew. I would miss my best friend, my travel buddy and the man who I watched tenderly hold each child, some born of him, some not; and give them the life and love that each person deserves. We have mostly had an amazingly rich life together and for that I am thankful.
While I stand on this precipice I also think about my own transgressions. I realize that in the past several years I have been so deep in my own pain and worry that I couldn’t recognize the extent of his. His fears about his job, getting older, providing for children with special needs, and living with a woman he doesn’t understand and who no longer understands him. And I confess that even if he could have told me his hurts, sorrows and pain, that I may not have been in a place to hear him and to understand that the depth of his pain was so old and so deep that it had turned to crude.
And so I wait. Trying to act and not react. Trying to find peace within myself before looking for anything from him. And in the back of my mind I wonder that if that time comes to leave…will I know it? Will I recognize it for what it really is or will I see it through my own imperfect and distorted lens… pushing things forward at a pace that makes us fly over the handlebars resulting in a patchwork of stitches; the resulting scars forever visible for all the world to see. Or can I just decide to stop pedaling and make the decision to coast; in an attempt to find contentment with where I am at this point in time and in no hurry to reach some unknown destination? For one thing I have discovered is that we often meet our fate on the road we take to avoid it and truth be told, I am in no hurry to find out precisely what it is.