He said my name when he left Sunday morning.
“Bye, Britt. I’ll see you on Tuesday.”
He never says my name. Unless he’s mad at me or has been trying unsuccessfully to get my attention, he never uses my actual name. Babe. Honey. Hey. But never Britt.
Britt always stops me in my tracks.
This time, he wasn’t saying it out of anger or frustration. It got my attention completely on accident. He was simply going through the motions of The Changing of The Guard, when the kids go from my care to his and back again. He was, I know, just walking out of the house without the familiar routines of a kiss and a hug and a “call me when you get there”. We have no idea how to do this, either of us, and so we try on new etiquettes and polite phrases just to have something to fill the void.
The most polite thing to call me now is Britt.
And for a little while, the polite things keep the rest at bay. As do the angry things, and the exhausting things, and the round and round and circular things.
I can go hours, days even, seeing no more than this new polite person with cold eyes and a straight back.
Or the faceless person. The one who doesn’t listen, who doesn’t hear, who doesn’t get it – no matter how many words I use. The one who says the wrong things and doesn’t do the right things. The faceless him who flips my head around and ties my stomach in knots.
And the him makes me forget about Jared.
And then he says my name.
And hours later, I’m sitting alone at a glass patio table, and the whisps of Jared that have been haunting me all day can no longer be held at arm’s length. I’ve been resisting the deep breath since noon, and my lungs are tired from holding it off. So I breathe, finally, completely.
And Jared comes rushing in.
His face relaxes and his eyes warm. The tension in his shoulders is gone, and his arms are mine again. He smiles. I lay my head against his chest and I breathe in and out as quickly as I can, pushing out all the confusion and replacing it with love and comfort and security.
The phone rings.
“I can’t talk to you right now,” I say.
I can’t stand to hear anyone’s voice but Jared’s. I want to be alone with my memories and with the familiarity I haven’t dared to let myself feel.
I want to feel whole, if only for a moment.
Except that I’m not. Because I am still sitting on my patio, on our patio, alone. And the more vivid the memories become, the stronger the ache. I’m leaning against a ghost, oddly comforted and tortured at the same time.
I lay down in my bed, in our bed, and the ghost of him lays beside me. He is in the room with me, and not at all with me. I close my eyes and lose myself in the pit of my chest. The ache is strongest there. And my God, while it hurts so god damn bad, I’ve missed this man so much that I cannot help but let myself get lost in him. In even just the sense of him.
How have I forgotten this?
How has this not been enough?
I want nothing more in the world than to send for him, to beg him to come home and make the ache stop. Surely if he was here we could make all the questions and doubts and anger and little, stupid things disappear.
I close my eyes and drown myself, wanting to squash the ache and be rocked to sleep in the love. And when I can’t do both, I endure the pain for my moment with the peace.