Cancer of the heart

My neighbor and I were commiserating the other day about our children’s milestones, Leta’s walking and her own son’s first night in his Big Boy Bed, and how these seemingly inane successes are part of some bigger monster that started choking our hearts the day our children were born. Just this morning Leta spent thirty minutes hugging my neck and pressing her mouth to my forehead – the physical act of puckering her lips to form a kiss seems excessive when she can just lean in and slime me — and I was sure I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime, my heart just couldn’t take the strain.

The first night my neighbor’s son slept in his own bed he not only did it willingly but with much celebration, and this upset her so badly that after she said goodnight to him she had to leave the room to cry. I can understand why. Your baby sleeps in your bed for three years and then one night decides he wants to be by himself, it’s like saying, “Here’s my groin, please take aim with your steel-toed boot.” I felt the same way when I stopped breast-feeding Leta and she didn’t know the difference. I thought the whole transition would feel like progress, like total relief, but instead it felt like my own life was slipping through my fingers like sand.

While my neighbor was in her living room crying her husband came to her to try and comfort her. He said he didn’t understand, wasn’t this a good thing, their son sleeping in his own bed? He pointed out, “Now in bed you’ll have me all to yourself.” She didn’t have to say another word, I got it, and we both said in unison, “THAT’S NO CONSOLATION.” Not that we don’t love our husbands dearly, but I saw the glimmer in Jon’s eye when he realized that once Leta was on the bottle he would get a chance to occupy my territory, and isn’t it great that they can think about sex WHEN WE’RE DYING.