Being Seen

“Someday I will have a new daddy, and it will be you, me, and him,” the boy tells me as he climbs up on the stool to stand in front of the mirror and brush his teeth.

He is killing me this week.

“Do you mean that you think I’m going to get married again someday?” I ask as I hand him the toothpaste, wondering where he’d gotten such an idea since I haven’t gone on a single date since his father died.

“Uh huh,” he mumbles, then swishes and spits.

“What if I don’t? What if it’s just you and me? Is it okay if you just have a mom?”

“Yes,” he says, peering at me from below his father’s dark eyebrows, blinking with his father’s dark eyes, watching me from under those same dark lashes, the ones I watched for years, before grinning and dashing downstairs to find his boots.

I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad at the answer, that it might imply he barely remembered him enough to miss him, when I remember him too much not to. Four-year-old boys, it seems, are no less talented than their adult counterparts at confusing and wounding a woman’s heart.

On the drive in to work after, I listen to Luther Vandross’ “Dance with My Father” on repeat and weep, ugly, wet sobs. It is dark outside still, and no one can see into my car. I am done by the time I get to work, have wiped all trace evidence away. No one there knows me well enough to be able to tell that is what I have been doing for the last half an hour. Perhaps no one anywhere knows me that well. Perhaps that is part of what I miss about being married—being seen.

This week I am tired of being useful, tired of being kind, tired of showing up day after day with a smile on my face, ready to work hard and get things done. This week I am tired of the wet driveways and ice patches on the lawn, the wind winding through my hair, the grey of the skies, the seemingly interminable piles of laundry, of dishes, of papers to be filed.

This week I am tired of being good, tired of being brave, tired of the long days and the even longer nights, punctuated by wakefulness, by bad dreams, by worry. It seems as if I spend more time watching the sky than I do sleeping, as if the moon and I are akin to one another, solitary, nighttime souls holding steady in the grip of winter’s cold fist, as if the closest I can come to true companionship is this, watching the moon while no one watches me.

This week I am tired, but most of all, I am just tired of not being seen. 

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