we walked the pier on a summer evening. & as we sat down on a bench, he told me all the things i needed to do. try harder. get out more. volunteer for something.
he said other things that i don’t remember. i stared at the water in front of us. then at my hands as i tried not to cry. he hadn’t heard a word i had said in forever. he had walked out of the room once as i was crying & saying i was getting sicker & didn’t know why.
now he was fixing things. & there was no reason for me to talk anymore. he looked satisfied & happy. i don’t think he even noticed that i was silent & distant.
after his dad died, he grew more distant & angry. it took me awhile to realize the anger was directed at me. one night, he told me about his latest work idea. it had many flaws but i said nothing, other than noting that it would entail him being not around at all as my health continued to decline.
he was angry i was not cheerleading his idea. i told him in the end he must choose the path that held his heart. he told me to stop with the buddhist bullshit.
then he recited a litany of all the things lacking – me not wanting to go out to parties or hear live music or …..any number of things that people do. that all i did was take these walks or go to the park or visit his family. i started to answer & explain & then stopped.
that night i took off my wedding ring. he never noticed. he chose the job.
within months, after walking out on yet another doctor who told me to take up running & do high intensity aerobics (i asked him if he had not heard the part about the days i could not get up from the couch.), in the throes of increased marital conflict & trauma, on the heels of failed marital counseling & inconceivable behavior, i collapsed severe with the disease i had only recently figured out that i had.
i was frightened out of my mind. he paused in the kitchen on his way to a party & said, “this changes nothing.”
it changed everything.