Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Messages Out of Time

"Did you find it yet?" she asked, smiling as she flipped through her New Yorker, watching me carefully as I ate my breakfast of omelettes and hash browns. "It's in your wallet someplace."

I looked up at her mischievous smile. Marcie was ever aversive with her pretty eyes when she was being bashful or playful, and always embarrassed at my tendency to look her up and down, drink her in a bit. Even now.

"Not yet," I said. "But I don't want it to be something I dig out, I want it to be something I find."

She shrugged me off "Okay, if that's what you want." It was genuine, it was her. "It will be a surprise when you least expect it. That is, if you forget about it. Look at this."

She showed me a small cartoon in typical New Yorker style featured two men speaking in front of a gigantic television and home theater system. A baby sat wearing headphones in the middle of the screen. The caption read "We're past Baby Einstein. We're on to Baby Bruckheimer."

And the issue of her love note was forgotten for the moment, buried mirth, then in busy days and nights. My wallet grew and was culled repeatedly, her note remaining undiscovered within.

When autumn brought the pain of her resurgent, insistent disease and we ventured out to Julian for a break from the pain, she asked again, "Have you found it?" I knew instantly what she meant as we laid together amidst crickets and owls and dark.

"No, baby," I said. "I haven't looked. It will come up when it wants to, or when I need it."

"I know, honey," she said, settling in and pushing back into me a bit.

And as I cuddled behind her in our little bed and breakfast and stroked her, I was quiet, and so was she. It had been a long day and her energy had waned quickly at the end.

After some time, when I thought her regular breath meant she was asleep, I could not hold in my tears. I let them roll down my eyes but did not sniffle or moan.

"It's okay," she said, groggily, half-asleep. "You'll find it, honey."

And then she slept, and the note was forgotten again, for a little while, at least. And then the world burned around us, and we both struggled to barely breathe.

"Did you find it yet?" she asked, her words so warbled and strained now. She watched me as I busily tried to finish cleaning her up for the second time in a few hours, trying to cover her and give her back some dignity. My queen, my lover, my wife, now my patient, too.

"Yes, I found the pad you wanted," I said, reaching for it. "Do you want to write a list of things to ask the nurse?"

"No, honey," she said. "No, did you find the mm mnogk? The mgogt?"

Realization dawned. "No, I didn't find the note yet, baby. I'll find it, I promise. Hold on," I said, intending to tear my wallet, a gift from her, apart to find it.

She touched my arm, her hand shaking as it had begun to always do. "I love you," she said, nodding as her tears came. I simply draped myself on her and held her there and whispered my love over and over. Her breathing slowed. She slept.

And the note was forgotten once more. And the fires subsided. And then she was taken from me, and I began to write notes to her. And I wished she could somehow write back, but the note stayed forgotten.

Then, December 11, exactly 6 months after she wrote it, the note fell out of my wallet as I looked for a business card.

"Just a note to say hi and tell you how much I love you, during your busy day, my dear," she wrote. "I am always thinking of you, sweets. Your ever-loving wife."

She had added a little heart and, as she always did, she dated the note for me, 6/2007. I found a reason to get up and take a walk outside, around the district headquarters.

I managed to swallow my tears until I got home. And I decided to write her back when I stopped swallowing.

Hi, baby. I miss you, honey, terribly, as I always do when I work. I am always thinking of you, too. I feel like I will now spend a whole life waiting to come home and see you. Thank you so much for your wonderful note. It will help me get through this work and through these very long, very busy days. Love, your devoted husband.



Tanya said...

I'm finally caught up on all the blogs. But this last posting really got to me. The note. Just when I think that I can deal with reading about my friend, my friend's dear husband, just when I think I can handle it, it just hits me.