As I was leaving work last week, I saw a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a still, quiet evening around seven. There was a chill in the air left from the snow melting and the sky was a pewter blue.
I lifted my head in time to see a fox leaping, his motion fluid and feral, silent. Following on his heels was a grey creature that was either a fox or a coyote. Both were focused, seamless in their motion; they leaped up over the curb and into the tangle of bushes beyond and completely disappeared without a sound.
Close above them I could see the black flurry of a crow's wings, his harsh cries loud in the still air. The crow rose up into the trees, leaving only echoes of his voice. I was left wondering if I'd imagined it. My mouth had literally dropped open; I had to remind myself to close it.
The experience was full of some kind of wild magic and it came over me all at once- no wonder our ancestors worshiped animals, no wonder they thought the animals portents and spirits.
Soon Keith will be unable to reach me by phone or have access to the Internet. He will be in this place until the end of deployment. Eventually phone lines will be run out, I don't know how long it takes for them to set it up.
But every time he calls now it feels twice as urgent to get through, to hear his voice but the connection has gotten steadily worse. Today was a constant stream of interrupted calls as he tried again and again to get through and couldn't hear me.
It is so heartbreaking every time I hear his voice start out so hopeful and then trail off into resignation as he realizes he can't hear me. Especially as the day went on and his voice got more and more tired. It is so frustrating to hear him speak with such exhaustion and to not be able to reply. I think he ended up getting about two hours sleep.
The missing him is getting worse and time is not going by quickly enough to keep pace with the growing intensity of the feeling. Sometimes I feel as if I am a small child, having a temper tantrum, kicking my heels against time. The last three days of March crawled by so slowly I thought I would scream.
Now that's April, I feel better. April is the gateway to summer. The best thing about April, in fact, is that May comes after it. Especially as more snow is predicted this weekend. I forgot that out here, the reckoning for all those sunny, mild days of winter is a cold and miserably snowy spring.
I had to move something into the garage today, which meant of course going into his closet (to get the key) and the inevitable shirt detour. All the scent is gone from the shirt he married me in; I kept it, and the white tee shirt he wore beneath it, in the back of the closet. I never washed it. But now all it smells like is the closet itself, faintly of linoleum and cotton.
(By the way, he has given me permission to buy him clothes. The poor man has no idea. I got all excited and asked him if he liked chinos. "I don't even know what that is," he protested gruffly. But it's too late for him! He gave permission!! He has no idea what his closet will look like by the time he comes back.)
Abby waited intent at the opening of the door into the garage. I looked down at her and tried to explain that he wasn't in there. She was having none of it. As far as she was concerned, her daddy had been locked up in the garage for time untold, in possession of both the basketball and the highball and now she was going in after him.
Her face when she stood in the darkened, empty space of the garage looking back at me was unmistakable; she was shocked and let down. The sadness in her eyes made me want to cry.
"I told you," I said. "I told you he wasn't here."
He refinanced the house. We will have it paid off in fifteen years and save a massive amount of money. The monthly payment is slightly higher than it was and I reminded him that he would have to be aware that we couldn't just go off and buy whatever we wanted now, no boats, no flat screen TVs, none of that stuff.
"Yes, Captain," he replied teasingly and then the call dropped.
"Honey," he added, when he got through again, "you know I'm always gonna take care of us."
"I know," I said, and suddenly I did know; the knowledge washed over me with a deeper reality than ever before. I felt the solidity of him, of our marriage, of our future. All the breath went out of my body in one long rush of relief, a breath so deep and long that I must have been holding it for the past ten years.
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