The following entry has been generously donated by an acting contributor, Leahpeah, for which I am so grateful during this time of much offline writing and viral contamination.
The fan is making rigid rounds, over and over, while I watch the pattern the spinning blades make on the carpet with the lamp behind them like that. My husband is asleep upstairs in our bed. It's rare for him to be up there and I should be up there with him, relishing in his form lying next to me and memorizing how it feels for all the nights he's downstairs, working in the office while the clock ticks 3:13 am and I stare at the ceiling, wishing he was there.
A late night talk show is on the television. I hate them and I watch them every night while I don't sleep. Some young star is laughing now, tossing her hair over her shoulder and smiling coyly at the camera. The audience laughs. The band begins to play and I hate them all so much. And I keep not thinking about what I don't want to think about, but a tear sneaks down my cheek when I'm not expecting it. I brush it away, absentmindedly. It's one of many.
I feel unwanted. Unneeded. Unnecessary. When your children tell you in so many words to leave them alone, I'm not sure there is any other way to feel. They have a mom already. They don't want two. I know I'm supposed to be many other things besides a mom. I know that. And in a perfect world, any number of those things would grow to larger proportions, like a virus feeding on empty space and filling it with roots, and then my life would be so full, I wouldn't notice that they don't call or come over or return my messages. And it wouldn't feel like a knife in my gut when my husband falls asleep before midnight, exhausted after getting less than 4 hours of sleep all last week. He's tired. I get it. I feel alone.
When someone dies, there is a definitive end. It comes with varying degrees of sadness, regret or relief, depending on the circumstances. But you know they are gone. You know it and there is no way to make it different. Your only choice is to eventually accept it, and you do. I'm not sure what to do with this unnatural break. I'm not accepting it very well. I'm their mom and that is what I want to be. They are alive, living right around the corner. I could walk there in 8 minutes. But I won't. Because that makes them feel uncomfortable. And what would they think of their (other) mom, face red from crying, showing up at the door in the middle of the night just hoping for a hug, desperation on her sleeve?
Tomorrow, after a fitful few hours of restless sleep, I'll wake up late in the morning, my eyes puffy and swollen, a slight hangover from too much wine and a backache from staying in a particular position long after my muscles beg me to move, but I don't, because it's too much trouble. I'll fix an egg and a piece of toast. I'll drink coffee. I'll drive to the store to get a gallon of milk, a can of peas and a new head for the auto-soaping dishwand in the kitchen. I'll pass a man walking his dog, a smile on his face. I'll listen to the cashier ask me paper or plastic and nod my head and let her decide what I meant. I'll watch the sprinklers across the street as I walk over to check the mail box and then grab the groceries and the free paper as I head back into the house. And not once will I look through the houses down the block, wishing I could see through them and through the houses on the next street and around the corner and into the home where they live with their dad. Not once, but probably about 114 times. Straining to see if they are hungry or thirsty or cold or hot and wondering if they had a good day at school and if they are getting their homework done. Wondering if anyone was mean to them and hurt their feelings or if they aced their test in math. If they have math. And wondering how this can be ok with them. Wondering how they just keep going every day and every night, sleeping and eating and doing all the normal things when I'm not a part of them. And wondering why I didn't notice for so long that I was making their life difficult trying to be in it.
The late night show is over. Now it's the late, late night show filled with laughing people and asinine jokes and I hate them. The fan is still turning. My husband is still sleeping. And I'm still completely unnecessary.