Spilled Milk (a short story of loss and hope)

Rejoice

She stood at the kitchen sink, methodically washing a pot. Her breathing kept a rhythmic pace with her hands. She did this unconsciously, like an intuitive internal tempo – eight scrubbing motions for every breath in, eight scrubbing motions for every breath out. She stopped scrubbing but kept breathing, as she rinsed the pot with clean water, inside and out. With the water still running, she set the washed pot on the drying rack, topping off a pile of other cleaned dishes. She turned the faucet off and, with the same intuitive sense, turned her head towards the direction of the living room. She took a deep breath in and exhaled very slowly. She then inhaled quickly.

“Emma!”, she shouted from the kitchen. “I told you to turn the TV off. Are your toys cleaned up yet? Daddy is going to be home any minute now and I want to eat dinner as soon as he comes in. Her emphatic and instructive plea seemed to hang in the air. She really had no idea when he’d be home. She had guesstimated based on his last words to her that morning before he left for work. He told her he had a meeting after class with a student and wanted to run an errand after that. She calculated an extra hour and a half to his usual arrival time and planned dinner accordingly. However, dinner was pretty much ready and he was not home yet. She sighed, and rather than looking at the clock, she looked at the ceiling. This gesture again activated an intuitive reaction to wonder what her son was doing. Amid the din of the TV, she could hear the sound of random thumps coming from upstairs. The arrhythmic down beats seemed to be directly above the kitchen where, coincidently, her son’s bedroom was located. She decided to investigate.

She walked a straight line from the kitchen, through the dining room and into the living room. Her long row home created a corridor of rooms from front to back while also offering a distinct transition from room to room, marked by decorative archways. This made each room feel like its own special space. The ornate moldings, that outlined the large dining room archway and smaller kitchen archway, were original to the house, over a hundred years old. She and her husband bought the house when they got married, thirteen years ago, as a ‘fixer-upper’ in an ‘up and coming’ neighborhood. They were determined to resurrect its former beauty. They both possessed a tenacity for loving life and having compassion for all things that needed hope restored, which is actually how they met – volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. Back then, she loved helping Habitat’s effort, not only for its social justice focus but also because it made her feel closer to her dad. Her dad was a gifted carpenter who died suddenly in her late teens. The smell of fresh cut wood and wet paint and plaster always reminded her of him, and made her feel hopeful – because something new was being created (or re-created). Her husband had a knack for carpentry and was not shy about hard labor. He joined the Habitat team while he was finishing his dissertation. One of the first things he ever told her was how it was necessary to exercise head, hands and heart on a daily basis to remain a whole person.

She thought of him saying this as she passed through the dining room into the living room and saw the baby grand piano that hugged the archway that separated living room from dining room. The top of the piano was propped open. The smooth black glossy finish was a contrast against the white gilded molding. She stopped for a moment and put her hand on the edge of the piano and looked at her four-year-old little girl, who was sitting on the sofa staring at the TV. She looked back at the molding and remembered how carefully her husband and she had stripped, sanded and repainted all the woodwork throughout the house in their BC days – BC meaning ‘before children’, as her husband liked to refer to that time period in their lives. They were so excited and energetic when they set out to restore and renovate the house; and they accomplished much in a short amount of time. Now, just looking at the molding made her feel more tired.  It could use a fresh coat of paint these days, but the effort did not feel worth it.

With her hand still on the piano, she sighed abruptly. “Where is he?” she thought. She kept her hand on the piano and even leaned her weight a bit more onto it, as an effort to find support for both her tired legs and tired soul. Music had always been a special kind of medicine for her – one of the main reasons that attracted her to her husband. He could play many instruments, though piano was his primary focus. He was a brilliant musician and a beloved professor at the famed conservatory in town. The piano made no sound at that moment, but she could feel it strengthening her just the same, simply by its palpable presence. Then suddenly the sound of glass breaking came from upstairs. It made her gasp aloud.

“Jake! Are you okay?” She ran to the bottom of the staircase along the living room wall and quickly ran two-thirds of the way up and then stopped.

“Mom, I’m okay!”, Jake shouted back. She had a direct view up the rest of the stairs, down the hall and into her seven-ear-old son’s bedroom. She saw him darting back and forth, in and out of sight from the door frame’s view. Her view of him was also a bit obstructed by a large laundry basket that sat on the floor, just inside the entrance to his room, -which she knew to be filled with folded clean clothes. However, she could see some of the clothes hanging over the rim of the basket, as if trying to escape or worse. She gripped the railing with her right hand and slowly walked the rest of the way up, one step at a time, intentionally taking a deep breath with each upward step.

“Jake, what happened?”, she asked with a weary tone, as she scaled the last step.

“Um…well…” he disjointedly replied, still jumping around the room in some sort of franticly deliberate motion. As she stood at his door, she scanned the scene. She quickly concluded that the clean laundry in the laundry basket was no longer clean. She also assessed the broken glass on the other side of the basket ,that she could now see as she stepped into his room.

“Jake!” she exclaimed. She paused for a moment to look at the remains of a tall drinking glass shattered on the wood floor and what appeared to be milk splattered in little puddles alongside the laundry basket. She glanced at her son, who had stopped dashing around and was stationed on the other side of the room, putting on his shoes. “Jake,” she verbalized more gently, “what happened?” She paused and added, “ What are you doing?”

“I know, mom,” he blurted out.

“You know what?”, she quickly questioned.

“It was an accident,” he said with no eye contact. He was leaning over to tie his shoes.

”Jake,” she whispered in a serene yet stern manner. “Please tell me what happened and why are you putting on your shoes?”

“Mom,” he said assertively while making eye contact with her, “I spilled my glass of milk and I don’t want to step on any of the broken glass in my bare feet. I’m sorry, Mommy”, he added. He stood up with his shoes on and walked over to her.

She put her hands on her hips conflicted with wanting to be mad at him for 1. Not putting the laundry away like she had asked him at least an hour earlier and 2. having food in his room, which he knew was not allowed; but then she couldn’t help wanting to be proud of how he always tried to be a quick thinker/problem solver. He was so much like his dad that way.

“Did it spill on the laundry?” she asked.

“Well…yeah. I had my glass on the shelf,” they both looked at the bookcase along the wall just inside the door. “I reached over the basket to get it and it slipped and then fell on top of the clothes and then rolled off onto the floor. I tried to catch it but it just spilled all over the basket” He genuinely looked sad as he recounted the situation. He looked at the ground where the pieces of glass and puddles of milk lay.

“Okay,” she said, “let’s clean it up.”

“Mom!” he shouted, as they were about to move. “You don’t have any shoes on”.

She stood still and rubbed her eyes with both hands in the attempt to energize her body and help her brain think clearly. “Yeah,” she agreed, looking at her feet. “I’m going to go put my shoes on.” She adjusted her gaze from her feet to her son. “Go downstairs to the basement and bring back an empty laundry basket,” she instructed. “Please,” she added in a half-hearted tone. Well, it sounded half-hearted, but really it was meant whole heartedly. She needed help, and that was her one-word plea for it, even if directed to a seven-year-old.

While Jake scampered down to the basement and back up, she walked down the hall into her bedroom, put her sneakers on and walked back to Jake’s room. She squatted down, just inside the threshold in front of the laundry basket. She began to one by one sort through the layers of clothes in the basket to see what got wet and set them aside on the floor. As she sorted the clothes, she thought to herself that the glass must have been filled to the top. She didn’t remember Jake getting a glass of milk. She was in the kitchen all afternoon. Had it been there all day, since before he left for school? Maybe not even retrieved that day? She was too tired to put the effort into figuring out that riddle. She just kept sorting clothes. Even clothes at the bottom of the basket had gotten wet. Maybe from when the glass broke and splashed next to the basket? Again, she didn’t want to think too hard about this mystery.

“Here you go, mom”, Jake announced, as he ran up the stairs and stood behind her.

“Thanks, buddy”, she said, turning and taking the empty basket from him and setting it down on the floor. She put the clean clothes into the new basket and examined the old one to see if any glass lingered at the bottom. She set the wet clothes back into the old basket while giving Jake further instructions. “Go get the dust pan and brush from the bathroom closet and a towel from the bottom shelf, please” she included please this time with her request, feeling more at ease about the moment.

Jake turned on his heels quickly and dashed for the bathroom down the hall. Still squatting, she lifted each basket and set them in the hallway to clear the space in Jake’s room to clean up the glass. As she started to stand up, she heard the front door open.

“Hey all!” she heard her husband pleasantly exclaim, before the front door even shut. She stood in the hallway, rubbing her eyes again, and this time she felt energy returning. She heard the thud of his backpack hit the floor, soon followed by a series of statements and questions. “Hey sugar bean,” she heard him say to Emma -who was no doubt still sitting on the sofa, since the sound of the TV could still be heard. For a second, she heard the sound of a kiss – which was no doubt Emma’s forehead being kissed by her dad. “What are you watching?” he asked. “Where’s mommy? Where’s Jake? It smells good in here.”, he seemingly said in one breath. As she stood upstairs, she smirked and rolled her eyes at the same time.

At the same time this all occurred, her son emerged from the bathroom with only a towel in hand. He announced, “Mom, I couldn’t find the dust pan and brush.”

“Babe?” she heard her husband call from the bottom of the stairs. She walked to the top of the stairs and smiled when she saw him. He smiled back.

“Hi,” she said with a pause. We’re up here”, she paused again. “There was a bit of an accident” she told him While their eye contact lingered.

“Hi, Daddy,” Jake said, as he stood next to his mom at the top of the stairs looking down at the man dressed in black standing at the bottom.

“Hi,” he replied with a genuine smile. “What happened?”, he asked and began to ascend the stairs. She watched him casually walk up. Her husband strangely resembled, as she described him to her friends after they first met, an inside-out combination of Jesus and Johnny Cash with all the swoony charm of Harry Connick Jr and Ward Cleaver. After her friends met him, they obligingly agreed with her. And for what it’s worth, they still did. She being completely honest with herself, still did too.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Jake”, she said, turning her attention to her son – after recalling something seemingly triggered by watching her husband climb the stairs. “I think it’s in Emma’s room. Can you check…next to her dresser?” She took the towel from him and draped it over her forearm. Jake silently walked back down the hall, past the bathroom and into his sister’s bedroom. “Thanks, bud,” she called to him down the hall.

Her husband stared at her. “Is everything okay? Are you okay?” He asked this so gently and with a kind of concern that made her want to cry. Jake walked out of Emma’s room with dust pan and brush in hand and walked towards his mom and dad. He handed the tools to his mom. She held the tools in both hands and stared down at them. Merely holding the dust pan and brush made her feel weak again. She inhaled and held her breath for a few seconds. She stood between her husband and son, who stared at her as she stared at what she held.

“Mommy, are you okay?” Jake asked softly, in the same tone as his dad had asked. Again, this manner of inquiry made her want to cry. She could feel the lump swell in the back of her throat, which she knew would soon trigger her eyes to swell with tears.

“Jake, how about you let me help Mommy.” Her husband interjected. “Can you go downstairs and help Emmie clean up?”, he added, less as a question and more as an instructive nudge.

Jake looked at his dad then back at his mom, who was still staring at the dust pan and brush she held with both hands. “Sure, dad”, he replied and without missing a beat headed downstairs.

“You are not okay,” her husband assessed. He lassoed his arms around her and pulled her sideways against his chest. She shrugged slightly and then leaned her cheek on his shoulder. He lowered and craned his head to kiss her on her neck behind her ear. Her eyes were definitely starting to tear now, though she smiled as she closed her tearing eyes. His gesture was a non-verbal queue that had been established long, long ago in their relationship , as an unspoken sign of intimate empathy – less as a signal of sexual foreplay and more as a signal to simply know she was loved. After thirteen years together, they had formed a well-crafted way of speaking to each other. His kiss in that moment was a way of whispering something to her, and she knew what he was saying.

“I’m okay,” she said, “just really tired”. She kept her eyes closed a moment longer before lifting her head off his shoulder and looking at him. She love him so much, more than she could rationally articulate. Though once again, she felt the onset of internal conflict as she had had with Jake. She wanted to be annoyed at him as much as she appreciated all that he was. He had this way about him – he was a true extravert that never seemed to lack energy. He was an eternal optimist, which had been a quality so attractive to her before they were married but then frustrated her at times afterwards. He was forever hopeful that things would not only be okay but that they were okay – like when their bank account often became anemic or even when Emma spent three weeks in the hospital as a baby. It wasn’t that he was pretending or trying to convince himself (or her) of something he was struggling to believe…he actually believed that no matter what, life was good – God was good. She sometimes wondered, tried to convince herself, that it was due to his ADHD and that he just easily got distracted to think about ad infinitum possibilities of hopeful outcomes. Maybe his gift of not being able to fixate on the ‘bad’ was because he would simply and impulsively shift focus to something else. His genetic code seemed to help him navigate life with ease. She was so the opposite of that. At least, that was not her innate nature. She did work at being hopeful and knew it paid off; but as she felt his body warmth against her, she felt a twinge of resentment spark inside. She pulled away from his embrace.

“Dinner is ready,” she started to say, “the table just needs to be set. Jake spilled a glass of milk in his room and the glass broke on the floor.” She tilted her head towards the accident scene and held up the cleaning tools. “I need to sweep it up.”

He examined her with curious concern. “I’ll clean it up,” he said. “Go get dinner set up and I’ll be down.” He took the things from her hands and turned his head towards Jake’s room. He saw the mess she referred to. He had a puzzled look on his face and took a breath as if to ask something, but then opted not to. She noticed this and couldn’t help but wonder – was his silence because his distractibility kicked in or because he knew asking her what exactly happened would be bad timing. She wanted to think it was due to the former, because the latter explanation merely proved him to be even more perfect than she wanted to admit. More likely, she admitted to herself, it was due to both.

She walked downstairs and saw both her children sitting on the couch watching TV. She remained poised and scanned the room for the remote. It lay between her son and daughter, who each lay like lumps on either end of the sofa. She picked up the remote, pointed it at the TV and pressed off. She turned back to her two kids – who she really did love dearly. However, times like these required consciously remembering that. “Guys, I’m going to say this once and I want you to listen and obey” She paused for solemn effect. It worked.

“Yes, mama?”, Emma answered, uncurling her limbs and stretching to stand up. Jake lifted his head and looked at her, waiting for her to continue speaking. She looked at her daughter and then to her son. It was so strangely surreal how her son was so much like his father and her daughter was so much like her. Though she knew aspects of the visa versa were true too. She took a deep breath to steady her words.

“Emma, I want you to clean up these toys right now,” she said, while making a sweeping gesture around the whole room with her hand. “Jake, I want you to help me set the table”. She turned and began to walk the straight line back to the kitchen.

As she stepped into the dining room, she heard Jake’s voice behind her respond enthusiastically. “Yes, mom!” He jumped up and ran to follow behind her. But somehow his quickened footsteps behind her ceased suddenly. She heard the sound of something hard hitting something hard and then the siren sound of a seven-year-old boy in pain. She spun around on the balls of her feet.

Her son lay crumpled on the ground holding his head and crying. “What happened?” she asked. She bent down to examine him. He fell into her arms, mumbling something through tears that she could not understand. She looked up and guessed he had run into the door jam of the archway that led into the dining room. The thing of it was, this happened often. Jake was always running into things or tripping over something that wasn’t necessarily “in his way”. She and her husband had even taken him to see the eye doctor because they assumed it was due to a vision deficit. But the optometrist assured them that his vision was fine. In fact, he had 20/10 vision. Again, another similarity between father and son and another reason for her to value as well as resent her husband. “Jacob,” she said softly, “let me look at your head”. She put her hands over his hands and gently guided them away from his face. She did not see any lump starting to rise or bleeding. She put her fingertip ever so lightly on a red mark where his head met the door frame. “Everything is okay,” she informed him. “Just an unpleasant moment along the way”, she said reassuringly. “Stand up and come with me to set the table”, she said, helping him to his feet. Jake sniffled some final sobs and walked with her slowly.

“Oh, good grief!”, she uttered, as they entered the kitchen. “Bubba!”, she shouted at the cat, who was the bane of her existence the last few years. The fifteen-year-old tuxedo cat came with her husband when they got married and, these days, was half deaf and nearly blind. He had somehow jumped up on the counter and was trying to maneuver among the few plates of food that were their dinner. She used both hands to scoop up the cat, who was walking on top of the plate of chicken. She tried to place him gently on the floor, but he meowed loudly at her tight grip of disgust in the process.

“Ewwww, Mom!” Jake declared.

“What’s going on down here?” her husband asked, snapping his fingers and smiling as he walked into the kitchen.

“Babe, it’s not funny,” she quickly sneered. “The cat just walked all over the food. She looked at the cat cowering in the corner by the fridge.

“He what?” he asked, bending down to pet the cat behind the ears with his thumb and forefinger. “Well, let’s assess the damage”. He walked over to where she was standing by the counter and they both looked at the food. “I don’t see anything”, he noted. “Oh, maybe a hair or two”. He pointed to a few places. “Nothing we haven’t eaten before.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Can you go away, please?”, she did not ask but instructed. She also did not include please to be polite.

“Yes, dear”, he replied, and left the kitchen with the same mannerisms as when he entered.

“Jake”, she sighed, “let’s just eat at the kitchen table tonight and let’s use paper plates.” She reached to pull open the silverware drawer. As she did so, she heard the beginning bars of an old beloved hymn being played on the piano. She shook her head in surrender and began to sing along. “I come to the garden alone, where the dew is still on the roses….” But, as she was about to continue singing the next line and count forks at the same time, the rendition shifted from classical hymn style to rag time rhythm. She felt like throwing a fork across the room and screaming. “How did he do it?”, she thought to herself. “How did he so easily go from one moment of life to another with constant energy and joy, regardless of what was threatening to undermine it all just beneath the surface?” She decided it was time to use the bathroom. The truth was, this was her standard way of finding space to be alone. Since becoming a mother, she constantly got interrupted; but thankfully at this stage in life, she could lock the door, which served as a buffer between her and the reality ‘outside’. As Jake arranged paper plates and glasses on the table, she disappeared into the half bath at the back of the house, just past the kitchen. She closed the door, unbuttoned her pants, scooched her bottom clothing down to her knees and sat down. She exhaled and listened to the stream of pee mix with the water in the toilet. This sensation and sound actually felt healing, as she sat there with her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands. She looked up and around the bathroom. It was completely black and white in color. She remembered how this was their final project they got done before Jake was born. She smiled briefly, remembering how her belly was too big for her to easily lay tile on the floor, so he took the lower level and she handled the high road. She placed her hand on the lower part of her bare belly and stopped smiling. She took solace in knowing she was indeed healing. It didn’t hurt to urinate anymore and the bleeding had stopped, but she still took great care in patting herself with toilet tissue. Before she flushed, she stood up and assembled her clothes back into order. She looked at her reflection in the mirror, as she washed her hands. She forced a smile and it did brighten her countenance. She smiled bigger. She chuckled to herself. She told her reflection, “Yep, you’re okay”. She saw a sense of peace in her reflection and decided to own it for herself. She glanced one more time at her reflection after she dried her hands and then left the bathroom.

“We were wondering if you fell in in there”, she heard her husband say, as he and their two kids sat at the table watching her walk over to the table and sit down to join them. She said nothing but waited for his next queue. “Let’s pray,” he requested. They all held hands in silence, until the next queue was given. He led them in a short and memorized song of harvest praise for the blessing of their meal.

As the song concluded, Emma did not let go of her mom and dad’s hand who sat on either side of her. She raised her eyes upward and with a loud voice declared, “AAA-MEN!” This made the other three laugh out loud at such a sudden and unexpected outcry.

After that, dinner seemed uneventful and routine, cat hair on food and all. She thought of nothing else but what was in that moment. Her thoughts stayed ever-present after dinner as well. While she cleaned up dinner, her daughter colored at the kitchen table. She chatted with Emma about the color of unicorns and if they celebrate Christmas too. She had no idea where her husband and son were, but once again kept her thoughts present with only what was happening right in front of her. She sat down at the table while Emma finished her drawing of unicorns celebrating Christmas. She and Emma admired her detail of rendering a unicorn family not unlike their own. Emma pointed to the Christmas tree in the middle of the page decorated with a dozen or more lights and ornamental symbols.

“And this is the one very special present they are going to get for Christmas,” Emma said decidedly. She pointed to a rectangular shaped item under the tree, brightly colored.

“I see,” she said. “That will be exciting”, she added as she leaned over and kissed her daughter on the cheek. She was tempted to drift into the past or future, but was both determined to remain in the moment and was too tired to think about ‘what was” or ‘what may be’. Here and now seemed the best place to be. Well, bed also seemed like the best place to be and she could easily make that happen. “Okay, sweet thing. It’s time to get ready for bed”, she said and began to get up from the table. Emma made a slight disgruntled sound but put her coloring items away just the same and followed her mom upstairs.

Bedtime resembled the typical night routine – her husband and she took turns prompting son and daughter to take play clothes off, put pajamas on, go the bathroom, brush teeth, hop into bed and settle down for the night. Once tucked under the covers, starting in Jake’s room, both parents knelt by the side of their child’s bed and reviewed something from the day to be thankful for, followed by a final prayer of blessing before sleep was inevitable. A hug and kiss was exchanged between child and parents and lights were turned off and bedroom doors shut. However, as Emma’s parents were exiting her room, her mother lingered at the door with her hand on the door knob.  Emma’s dad walked down the hall. Somehow it felt like maternal instinct was a magnet that radiated through her and made the metal door knob cling to her hand. She lingered by the door and watched her daughter squirm for a few minutes, settling into her bed in a kind of instinctive way – finding the right position to permit sleep to occur. She slowly closed the door and walked slowly down the hall.

She walked into her bedroom and saw her husband sitting on the edge of the bed taking his socks off. She sat down next to him, as he tossed each wadded sock over to the corner of the room. She wanted to pretend not to notice but shifted her eyes towards him with a slight sneer.

He looked right at her with a smirk and asked, “What’s really going on? You’re not just tired, are you?” He hesitated slightly before asking this second question. His smirk disappeared and he sweetly stared at her.

She took a shallow breath in and out and did not make eye contact, but stared out the bedroom door. She thought about the picture Emma had drawn and could only think about the Christmas tree with the gift beneath it. She shifted her body on the bed to face her husband directly. “I’m still sad,” she said matter of factly.

He leaned towards her and quietly put his forehead against hers. He ever so gently put his hand on her shoulder and slowly lowered it, tracing the outline of her body with his fingertips, down to her knee. He rested his hand on her knee and she knew what that meant.

She leaned back, away from him and scooted upwards on the bed. She drew her knees to her chin, while shaking her head. “No, not now. I’m sorry. I can’t. I don’t want to.” She heard herself say this as if watching the scene like a third person in the room. She could hear how cruel it sounded, though it was said with almost no emotional tone. It was uttered with a monotone pitch – each sentence sounding like the same key on the piano being softly and repetitively played and forming a distant and dissident melody. She lowered her forehead to her knees, while she lifted her eyes to glance at her husband. He just sat there, staring at her. She rested her head on her knees and closed her eyes. Her thoughts drifted to a few weeks earlier, when they had shared an intimate moment – the first since the miscarriage, after getting the green light from the doctor that it was okay. She remembered the effort they both made to set each other at ease. The physical and emotional muscles needed to respond in a similar manner in that current moment felt too weak. She felt a twinge of guilt and opened her eyes to look at him again. He had a stern look on his face.

He abruptly got up and said to her, as he shifted his gaze to the floor, “You know I’m still sad, too.” He pulled off his shirt and continued to undress for bed. She watched him walk across the room and out the door.

As she heard the bathroom door shut with a clunk, she arched her back and looked at the ceiling. She looked at the light and it suddenly felt too bright in contrast to what she was feeling. She got up and turned the light off. A sliver of moonlight shone through the windows and cast a bluish hew on her bedroom floor, where her feet stood. she walked towards the window to look at the source of light that had washed over her feet. She pulled back the curtain and saw the moon, full in size, hanging in the sky by invisible strings. She felt herself swallow and stare at its radiance amid the night sky. She thought of her womb. Suddenly she felt as if she was the night sky and what was inside her was the moon. She felt tears silently stream down her cheeks and drip off the edge of her jaw. She heard the shuffled sounds of her husband re-enter the room and get into bed. She turned to look at him but he lay on his side with his back to her. The tears kept coming without a sound. She was so conscious of all that was occurring inside her and not until then had she thought of what was really happening inside of him. In that moment, they were in fact sharing something deeply intimate with each other, though neither could fully verbalize it or tangibly show it. It seemed invisible, but it was not. It must be made known. she walked over to the bed and removed her night gown from under her pillow. It was where she had kept her pajamas since she was a little girl. She undressed and slipped it on and climbed into bed. She purposefully did not wipe the tear residue from her face. She wanted it to stay there. She lay in the same position as her husband though she left a few inches of space between them as they lay. She wanted to give him room, not as a spiteful gesture but as a way to let him keep healing and to prepare him for what she would tell him in the morning. She knew that space between them was not empty, but presented something that would be revealed in time.

 

Photo:

Rejoice; casted plaster sculpture by Jamie Wasson 2013

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