In Through the Eye
I remember the morning my whole life changed for the better. I never would have heard her if circumstances hadn't forced a change.
My wife has both hands on her coffee mug, bare feet on the seat, knees tucked up to her chin, elbows holding them in, and the steam rises under her nose on the cool April air.
“This really is heaven, having you here.” The way she says it, it’s cute, it’s playfully sardonic but it’s sincere.
My husband’s face ― until recently, I wouldn’t see his face in the morning until he’d finished the financial section ― is weary, and handsome. His coffee is on the glass table, his fingers wrap the forward edges on the arms of his deck chair, but his grip is not as tight as it was yesterday.
“Lovely woman, there is no place I’d rather be.” The way he says it, I know it’s a bit more true than before, but not yet entirely. He wants it to be true. This is how it is with grief; with loss.
She knows I’m finished. She knows I know she knows I’m finished. And yet here she is, flirting with me at 6 o’clock in the morning like I’m the prom king, or the quarterback. I did so well, for so long, but no one’s perfect.
“Matthew, I’m not 19 anymore and you’re not 21. I have loved you for a very long time, and supported you while you did what you felt you had to do, both for me, and for you. I think you’d agree, it’s been good, but it hasn’t been heaven.” How is it that this woman can scold me, and make me feel known and loved at exactly the same time?
He looks away from the porch, into the distance, smirks just a bit, and I know he’s thinking of that phrase he got from his friend’s Grandfather so many years ago, “Any man who thinks he’s smarter than his wife, has a very smart wife.” He leans forward, and his eyes drop to the edge of the porch, then to his hands, now pressed palm to palm between his knees.
“I didn’t intend to lose it, honey. It all happened so fast. I’m sorry.” He says this to me, but he’s apologizing to himself.
“The only thing that would make me happier, would be if you told me you’d sold it all and given every cent of the money to the poor. Come with me. I want to go for a walk.”
My hand, emptied of everything I’ve tried to hold onto for my entire life, feels full and overflowing when her fingers slip together with mine.
“This really is it, isn’t it? It’s always been right here, this easy. This is heaven.” At these words, she turns to look at me. Her features are soft, her eyes are glistening. She’s smiling, and nodding, and giggling. What is this that she's feeling? What have I said? And then I know. She’s proud of me. So overjoyed and proud… of me. She kisses my cheek and pulls herself close to my arm as we walk. “Welcome home.”
She says it again, “Welcome home.”