Two. My day is divided into blocks of 2 hour shifts now. 2 hours with H. 2 hours to myself. 2 hours we both have to ourselves while he naps. 2 hours on. 2 hours off. One makes his dinner. One bathes him. A few bedtime stories, always the same. Wheels. Elephant. Pooh. Moon. Sometimes trucks. He pats the book, “Good book,” he says. A sippie cup half full of milk. “Mook” he says. He holds Red Dog, a pacifier with a red dog stuffed animal hanging from it (we are on the 6th one, having lost all the others). His blanky now, a scruffy puke brown blanket with a dog hood at the corner, that just for about a month now he drags with him everywhere. Maybe Pooh or Tigger clutched. “Mooooor” he says when I say “night night time”. And wriggles. One more book. Then I heft his weight to my shoulder, Pooh and Blanky and Woobie in place, his legs hanging now almost to my waist, and with the one free arm I turn off the light, turn on the sound machine, rock him just a bit and sing to him a little bit of “Moon River” until he wriggles out and over the sides of the crib, into his nest and curls up around all of the soft things to sleep.
That moment, when he knows that it is time and he lets go of the struggle and accepts the bed, the slumber, I could stand inside that moment forever. It is the closest thing to contentment I have ever felt. That I taught him this: acceptance of what’s next. Somehow, me. The one who has a serious acceptance deficit. I stand at his crib, watching my 2 year old son fall asleep instantly, with the whooshing sound of white noise and the glow of the night light in a room of his own, and I am grateful for just this.
Two. We are two. He is our ½. But he is two. We are three. But it feels like we are two. Me and Huck. Or Jamey and Huck. Rarely the three of us together. We shift swap, passing the son from one to the other, disappearing behind a closed door to cross of our individual tasks from our individual lives.
Shouldn’t this be time for three? Shouldn’t this bring us together? This feels still. Too still. I am alone. And always surrounded by two others. I am both happy and miserable. I am content and restless. I am not asking the world for anything and I am shaking my fist at the sky.
We two are in state of emergency for the 3 of us. I breathe air as if through a straw with a piece of lint at the end. I feel the weight of the intake. I feel achey and cold. My toes and fingers are cold. My nose is cold. The house is 72 degrees and I feel a wintry breeze through my skin.
I have lost track of how many days we have been inside. I have lost track of the future and I always had a tenuous hold on the past. All I know is that I am sitting here in front of my screen and trying to sort through what I know.
I know there is an invisible enemy, like air, and the only way to protect against the invasion is to stay home.
I know that I feel sick. I cough. I am tired. It could be any number of things.
I know that I am angry at my husband because even with someone who has pledged their life to me, I feel alone. He was my choice. The kind of man he is. And I still feel alone.
I know that I am in love with my husband, maybe moreso after these few years, I know that I wish he’d grab me one night, pull my shirt off my shoulder and tell me how beautiful I am. I know that he does this in his own way and sometimes I can’t hear it because it is not how I’d script it. I love him for giving what he can and for not giving up on me when he had reason. I love him for not saying too much as I slapped him the day before my doctor told me maybe I was suffering from Post Partum Depression. I love him for dialing the number to my doctor rather than his mother or the police. I love him for sitting with me while I cried for weeks on end over nothing, and then, as my father suffered, over everything.
I know that I can love him and be angry with him at the same time. I know that I could be sick or I could be suffering from allergies, or both at the same time.
I know that I can be accepting of this Great Pause and terrified of the future at the same time.
If this is the end of this chapter, there are no trumpets, no fanfare, no fireworks to end this book. Huck turned 2 on March 16 with only a few of us eating a cake made for more. That day, we closed our doors to the outside world and I don’t know when we will be able to open them up again and that suspension is unnerving. I should be scared and I’m not. I should be sad and I’m not. I’m blank. I’m waiting. I’m doing only what’s in front of me.
I don’t know how to begin. I don’t know how to end. I am stuck in the middle.
I am not comfortable if I can’t peer at the last page of the last chapter and at least get a glimpse of the ending. Happy or sad. Does she leave? Does he die? Does it all end well?
And so, moments like these, all I know is to do the next thing in front of me. Turn on the light. Write the sentence. Take a breath.
Two. That is the word I know right now. I am responsible for me. I am responsible for my son. That is all I can take in right now in this sheltered time.
Chop wood. Carry water.