The Little Things
It was hot today. The kind of heat that you can´t escape from. I had the ceiling fan on and was sitting in my chair waiting for him to get back. He said he was going to the cafeteria down the street to read the newspaper and have a chat with a friend.
I was always surprised that I missed him when he wasn’t around, even when I knew he would be back soon. We had been together since I was a girl. I can still remember the red sweater he was wearing the first time we met. Horrible old thing, the neck and wrists frayed, the color faded in some places.
Sometimes, when I look at him, I see that sweater on him, time fading to a softer place where youth was a rapid stream, and love was before me with all of its mysteries to unfold.
I can still intensely feel the first touch of his strong hand placed on my naked stomach, the look in his eyes asking for permission to go further. How I placed my hand on his and smiled, love filling my whole body, heart beating faster, my breath short little bursts, as if I couldn’t get enough air in.
Time had brought a soft yellow light to love with little edges of orange at the tips, especially in the mornings, when he would open his eyes and smile because he had caught me again watching him sleep. He would always, every day, take my hand and kiss my palm softly. Little light butterfly wing kisses are what he called them.
We never spoke in the morning as we got up. But there would be light touches of our hands falling on an arm, back, cheek, as we slowly dressed. The most special of all, our super hug in the kitchen while the aroma of coffee enveloped us. Then we would smile and start to chat, the ritual of love being over.
This was about as much as we could call lovemaking now. Old age had crept up without our noticing, a light fog impeding our movements, making it harder each day to get up out of a chair, climb the stairs, or even take our afternoon walks.
I spent more time at home lately, sitting in my favorite chair, letting my mind wander where it will. It usually led me down the well-trodden path of the past. And every path led me to him. A constant presence in my life, my joys, times of sadness, even horrible bitchy menopause, there at my side, unwavering.
I was one of the lucky ones. I had seen countless relationships with friends over the years end. What was different from ours? What made our bond so strong? Now, at this time of my life, the wisdom of the years on my stooped shoulders, I knew. It was the little things. We both noticed and were thrilled at the little things that most took for granted.
That scented flower bud placed on my pillow for me to find at night before I lay down. The birds we watch together quietly pecking their way over our garden. The closing of our eyes with a shared sweet treat, savoring it slowly, making it last. Sitting on the sofa watching a movie and feeling how he traces with a finger the puckered veins on the top of my hand. His little winks, when he catches me watching him, fiddling in the garage with some new project. The way we reach for each other’s hands just before we fall asleep. Our kindness towards each other’s failings, accepting how we both are, and not judging. Yes, it was all of this and nothing more.
I looked at the letter in my hand. Reread the lines from the doctor’s kind but impersonal letter. Our time was coming to a close but I would make sure that he would be happy and comfortable to the end. I knew how to make every day count. It was the little things that mattered after all.
I can hear his tread outside, he´s back. He´ll be full of stories to tell me and while I listen closely, both sitting side by side in our favorite chairs, I will hook my pinkie in his, while he squints his eyes at me and smiles. Life is good.