The Beginning of the End
"Here it is," she called out to me. She carefully replaced the marker on the grave. Then the tears came.
Instinctively, I cradled her in my arms. Then, I whispered into her hair, "I wish he'd lived longer. I wish we had memories."
Silently, she dried her eyes. When she spoke, her voice was strong, determined. "We've got to get a stone. No one knows he's there."
Every night for a month I awoke to the sounds of sobbing. At first, I held her in the darkness. Later, I let her cry on her side of the bed, feeling powerless and alone.
At work, I spent my days staring out the window of my office, feeling no urgency to complete my projects. Initially, everyone asked aboyt my wife, about how she was feeling. Eventually, they stopped asking all together.
When the office emptied, I'd sit at my desk for hours, staring into space. I'd get home late, after Lily was asleep, and lie down on the couch in front of the TV, with our timid cat, Samantha, curled on my chest.
Once, I awoke in a cold sweat. I had dreamt that Lily had cut off Samantha's front paws and had served them for dinner, while Samantha limped by the dinner table, her front legs bandaged, her large eyes, glassy, searching, imploring, helpless.
After six weeks, my boss called me into his office.
"Brian, I realize your family has been through a rough time. However, you're falling way behind on the project, and I'm afraid that if you don't become productive soon, I"ll have to pull you off it." The pressure was on. Yet, I couldn't think. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't feel. I was slowly dying inside.
All Lily ever wanted to do was talk about the baby. She cried; she screamed, "Why don't you ever talk about him? Why don't you ever cry? How can you act like nothing ever happened?"
Her accusations cut through me like a knife. Anger that had been building inside of me exploded then, and I hurt her: "Somebody's got to work around here! I can't sit around and obsess all day!"
Lily hadn't set foot inside her studio in our garage since the day the baby died. After our confrontation, she began painting again, furiously. Canvas after canvas portrayed scenes of pregnant women, wailing mothers holding limp infants, and sickly little boys. I stopped coming home.
I'd been staying at my friend's apartment for four months before I was served with the divorce papers.
I drove over to the house and discovered a moving van on the driveway. Lily was talking to the movers and stopped mid-sentence when she saw me.
Time stood still. She was wearing the same tight, short denim skirt she'd worn the day we'd met in English Comp class three years before. Her long blonde hair was loose and fell around her shoulders. I realized that I missed her.
Yet, I knew that things could never be the same.