Know What He Did?


he showed up in the place
where Wendy and i had gone
to say our goodbyes. he just
showed up, sat down, said,
"i'm here to spend this one
last time with you here, cause
i'm going to miss the sound
of your voice, the feel of
your arms around me, i'm
going to miss your heart beating
with mine."

well, Wendy was mad. she told
me so when we went into the
bathroom. she said, "oh! i'm
so mad at him! to barge in here
when i am trying to say goodbye
to you." and i said," he's
going to miss me. i know he
will. he never knew what or
who i was till just about right this
second. don't say anything. just
let him sit with us and let him listen
to me sing."

so Wendy said ok and i got called
up to sing, and i sang, just for him,
the song i sing that he loves the best.

and i saw him cry. he didn't try to
hide it. he didn't apologize. he
just cried for a minute, blew his nose
and ordered us all another round.

and then someone sang that other
song, the one we always danced
to. yeah, it's corny and it's hokey
and it's sappy, but i love that song
and i would always drag him out there
to the dance floor, force him to dance
with me no matter that there wasn't
another couple dancing, no matter
that we were the only ones and he
hated that. he hated being the only
couple up on the dance floor. he
was shy. maybe he still is.

he looked me in the eye and he said,
he didn't ask, he said, "dance with
me one more time." i didn't want to.
i knew what would happen. i know
myself pretty well. but how could i
refuse? he deserved that dance,
he'd earned it after putting up with
me all those years.

i took his hand and we got to the
dance floor and he put his arms
around me as if i were some
precious vase, some beautiful
possession that he couldn't bear
to lose.

and i felt his arms around me,
felt his heart beating so fast,
and my feet moved, the music
led, we just followed.

and i thought of all the times he'd
held me. i thought of him kissing
me in the orchard and saying, "i
want you to marry me," thought
of him, years later after some stupid
fight, climbing up the apple tree
while i stood at the door with Jason
on one side of me, Joshua on the
other and Christopher in my arms,
breaking off a small branch full
of blossoms, coming back and
handing it to me like he was
giving me his heart. thought
of us fighting before he went to
work and his ride honking in the
driveway, him turning and going
out the door, and i thought, "what
if he died? what if he died and we
had said our goodbyes with hate?"
so i went to the door and i opened
it and i yelled, just as he was getting
into the car, i yelled, "i don't care!
i love you anyway!" thought of him
turning to me and smiling such a
sweet, sweet smile and saying,
"yeah, i know, but i DO care
and i love you anyway, too."

a thousand thoughts like that as he
held me in his arms and we moved
to the music. my name was the first
thing he said when he woke
up in recovery after he had his
tonsils out when he was 20.
the recovery nurse told me that
as we got into the elevator, him
sleeping on the stretcher
between us, as we went up to
his room.

"are you denise? he's been calling
for you since we woke him up."

i thought of all of that and i couldn't
help it, i tried to stop, i really, really
tried not to, but i started crying and
i had to get out of there or i would
never be able to do it, i would
never be able to do what i had
to do for both of us, and i had
to do it. we mostly clawed at
each other by then. we mostly
tried to find anything we could
use to hurt each other and that
wasn't marriage, that wasn't love,
that was something that was slowly
killing whatever it was we'd had.

i left him standing there all by himself.
i got my purse, said, "i have to leave
RIGHT NOW" to Wendy, screamed
it really, and i left.

to this day Wendy will say, "i was
so mad at him!" whenever we
talk about that night, and it's been
two years tonight.


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