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After a few hours of restless sleep I woke up drained. After Bette walked back into my life so suddenly again, I came home last night and opened a bottle of wine, hoping it would calm down my jittery nerves. It didn’t give me what I needed, it didn’t give me peace. Thoughts of her, of us, our life continued to invade my mind. I have been longing to see her again, begging, praying in silence, during all those months. Finally there she was and all it did was emphasize all that’s lost, all that I lost, the rift between us and all that is left unspoken. In a few moments I will walk into that hospital room again and I wonder if she will be there. If she isn’t, I know I will see her soon anyway. I don’t know how to deal with it. I just don’t know.
Stepping into the room is like stepping into a parallel universe. Renee is sound asleep, her troubled breathing terrifies me like it does every day. Bette is standing at the window, wearing the same black turtle neck as yesterday and the somewhat wrinkled pants.
Fighting back the urge to turn around and leave, I mask my unsteady steps with confidence, while giving Bette a short nod. After hanging my coat and placing my bag with fresh clothes for Renee at the table, I take my seat next to the bed. It would be easy to think that the silence in the room is there because Renee is sleeping, but it’s clear that’s not the case. Through my eyelashes I observe Bette who takes her seat on the other side of the bed, with a long, probing look at me. That look that she usually reserved for people she doesn’t trust. It’s not a surprise I went from being the only one that she fully trusts to being number one on her untrustworthy list. When the silent inquisition becomes too much, I pick up the magazine from the table not being able to find the words. Apparently she can, the volume of her voice low, but the tone distant. ‘It has been a while.’
I look up just in time to see her eyes finding a spot on the wall behind me, before I briefly close my eyes feeling the deep saddening truth of her words. ‘It has.’ My eyes find a spot on the window frame over her shoulder. ‘How have you been?’ Using past perfect tense in a conversation with your spouse is heart breaking.