I watch the snow tumble down, flakes large as quarters, landing on the deck railing. The air is still and stiff like a starched shirt. I have a crackling fire in the fireplace; its warmth radiates and reaches my numb, chilled body. My eyes flood with tears as I rehearse last night’s conversation with Wes, my husband of ten years.
I had dinner on the table, everything that he liked, pot roast with potatoes and carrots, fresh baked sour cream rolls, and homemade apple pie. I wanted the aromas to greet him before I did. He works hard as a lineman, and I know he’s been under a lot of pressure on this new project. The long commute, coupled with mentoring several young apprentice lineman was taking a toll on him. Wes had seen many men electrocuted on job sites, often they were young and inexperienced, hard headed and didn’t want to follow the safety rules; these images haunted him. Lately, the tension coming from him was as electric as the high voltage lines he worked on.
“Hi honey, how did it go today? Smells like snow is in the air, the weather report is calling for 3 to 4 inches tomorrow.” I toss empty words at him like lettuce in a salad, “Go on and get cleaned up for dinner.”
Wes brushes my cheek with a kiss as he sits on a kitchen chair. His reddened, calloused hands unlace his Redwing boots; their plopping to the floor matches the lub-dub of my heartbeat. Since our daughter’s death six months ago, he has become withdrawn and seldom talks. I have had to restrain myself and give him space. I realize that he has to work through his grief, but I had hoped we could do it together.
I watch him go upstairs; the weight of another day bends him over. I busy myself with making a pot of after dinner coffee. Thirty minutes later he comes down dressed and puts his coat on to leave. This is a routine that has been going on for six weeks now. At first it was just weekends, but now it is also, two work nights a week. He never reveals where he goes, coming in late, more distanced after each excursion. I don’t ask, because I fear the answer…there is no silence like married silence.
“Aren’t you going to eat dinner? My voice is sharp and whinny, which I hate.
“I’m not hungry. I’m going out, don’t wait up for me, I don’t know how long I’ll be.” This answer had become his mantra.
I don’t bother to eat, I feel edgy and frightened. I can sense his slipping away from me and I feel powerless to stop it. I put the food away and clear the table keeping my hands busy, while my mind is in overdrive.
We have had our share of hard times before, but we always managed to get through it. Since McKenna’s death we have begun to drift apart, we are becoming strangers. The pressure of his unspoken words squeeze my heart like a disease.
I watch TV for a while, mostly staring without seeing and when the clock chimes twelve times I feel queasy, rattled and almost disoriented. Where is he? Who is he with and what can he be doing? The opening of the door brings me to full alertness.
Walking toward the foyer I hear myself asking, “where have you been all this time? What’s going on Wes? What am I supposed to think?”
Without raising his voice or his head he says, “I don’t care what you think. I’m leaving, it’s just not working any longer and I don’t love you anymore.”
There is so much sorrow in his face I could drown in it. His words clatter to the floor like shattered china. Time ceases for a moment and a calm comes upon me that replaces my agitation. Sometimes truth forces you into places you never intended to go,
and I have stubbornly refused to see the truth.
I now watch the flickering flames, like fiery fingers reaching to catch truth and I am reminded of God’s Word, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” I don’t know what the future will hold for Wes and me, but I know who holds the future. I know that He is able to heal our hearts. Loving Wes is like breathing, how can I stop myself?
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