Following a slow turn of the wheel and a gravelly sigh, the gear shift clicked into “Park” but the engine continued to hum, pumping heat onto her cold feet. She had arrived early and was now facing the office sign…”Attorneys at Law”… as she fingered the business card between mink trimmed, cashmere lined, black leather gloves. Why not simply ease the car into reverse and leave? Did she really want to:..sit down?…confess the gradual decline of the last fifteen years of a 30 year journey, with a stranger? reduce the successes and failures to a balance sheet? sort thru the flood of best and worst of times? She fingered the $200 in cash for the secret tryst, pangs of betrayal burning through twitching veins to implode her heart.
Two hours later, numb with impersonal facts and figures, she stripped and entered the hot shower as if anxious to wash off the experience! Only when her reddened skin burned did she FEEL enough to sob tears she had stored for those last fifteen years until a primal scream returned her to the moment. She toweled into a cocoon, exhausted.
Ugh! The familiar sound of the “pink bus” shrieked to announce her mother-in-law’s return followed by the grind of brake and bus door thud… slowly opening as she quickly reached for a day gown.
She was no longer alone; the mask was in place and she opened the door with the perfected smile flash with which everyone felt comforted. “How was your morning, Ma?“ taking her coat to hang up in the hall closet and rushing to ready her snack. “Good, sweetie. Here’s something for you from the mailman.” She saw the familiar scrawl of her best friend’s handwriting and opened the small box. Beneath layers of white tissue paper and the 30th Wedding Anniversary card was a pearlized silver modern slash of cross with twin silver rings hanging from a delicate chain in the center. Engraved in bold black script began the jointly chosen prelude to their vows: “Love is patient and KIND. It is NOT…” Another sob gurgled in her throat as she read everything SHE had NOT demonstrated for a long time. Slowly, she poised hammer upon a short nail and with each blow resolved to change what she could…herself! She re-read the scripted wall image now hanging on the kitchen cabinet above the phone. A slow smile of memory curved as she picked it up… and dialed. She heard herself ask, almost shyly: “Hi darling, we haven’t connected lately and, I was wondering if… Well, if, your schedule isn’t too heavy, …what about…would you ? ”An unexpected masculine interruption answered: “Am I hearing you correctly? Is my wife asking me OUT tonight? …I will MAKE time for us, say 7:00 p.m.?…”
There have been numerous opportunities for practicing random acts of kindness: the steamy thermal mug in the console coffee caddy at 3:15 a.m. so he could bypass the stop for stale coffee at the drive thru en route to the airport; specific acts of kindness:
the exhausting overnight hospital stays and early morning phonecalls to assure him all was well with his mom…have a good day!…yes, small and not so small acts from heartspace. ..the weeknight trysts at favorite restaurants, the slow pathway …back.
Another fifteen years…another kitchen…the same cross and the same man. Every morning she reads: “Love is patient and kind. It is NOT…”