- Michael Thompson
It was the fourth week of quarantine when my wife began to cry.
One of her dad’s favorite things to do is to go hiking every Tuesday with his buddies. For the ten years I’ve known him, the only thing that’s ever stopped him from going is either being hospitalized or lockdown. Bad weather doesn’t stop Lluis. He loves the mountains. It’s his place. The moment he steps onto a trail he blends into it. But even more than the mountains, he loves getting a day out with his friends. They’ve had this weekly tradition for over a decade.
It broke my wife’s heart when he told her his closest friend in the group had just passed away. He was 72-years-old. He was perfectly healthy. No underlying conditions. He followed all the rules. He didn’t even leave his apartment to get food. COVID killed him anyway. It was the fifth family friend to pass away in as many days.
Dinner was quiet. Even with two young kids. I think they could feel it. They’re funny like that. It wasn’t a good night to make a stink.
Later that night, after putting the two of them to bed, I went upstairs expecting to escape into a movie for a bit with my wife. But she was already passed out on the couch. She never does that. The two hours after our kids fall asleep each night is her time to breathe. Sacred.
I woke her up. She smiled. She does that. She told me she was sleepy. I told her I know. “You stay up for a bit,” she said. “It’s early.” After giving me a hug, she then stumbled down the steps and disappeared out of sight.
I sat there for a while. I tried to write some. I guess it went well. Time got away from me. It was late when I went to bed. At least for me. After midnight for sure. It could have been closer to 1.
I got into bed next to her. I tried to be quiet. She rubbed my arm. She does that — even if she doesn’t remember it. I laid there for a while. Thinking. What a shitty day. Growing old is sad. What the hell is happening? I hope her dad is okay. He’s a good man. Loyal. I’ve never heard him once complain. Proud eyes. But soft.
I rolled over on my side after her hand fell off my arm. I felt like I had forgotten something. What was I missing? The lights upstairs were off for sure. I double-checked. Water? Damn. Was it worth it? Could I last the night? Did I really want to get out of bed to get it? After having a long internal debate my logical side finally won. I reached over to my nightstand to pick up my empty glass to make the 10-step walk to the bathroom, but as soon as I did, I realized my glass was already full.
I looked back over towards my wife. It was dark. I could only make out her silhouette.
Two young kids inside a small apartment. Work. The day she had. Dealing with me. Barely touching her dinner. Falling asleep on the couch. Yet still, even in her state, before getting into bed she thought to herself — “Michael’s going to be thirsty later.”
We’ve never talked about it, but it’s now an unsaid rule — if one of us goes to bed before the other, we fill up the other person’s glass first. Seeing it next to my bed gets me every time.
Love is water.