I imagine watching myself from a chair in an abandoned film house. I see myself on the celluloid screen. See the faint smile and the miming motion of swirling life. I see my arms wrap around my children and see their willing arms wrap around my neck. Our words pop onto the screen. “I love you, honey,” is written in white on a black screen with delicate fancy framework.
We are happy. Functioning. Living. Moving and breathing.
But it isn’t until he enters from stage left that our world begins to expand. The black and white images burst with explosive Technicolor. Our words, no longer mimed in silence, inject themselves onto our tongues. Our explosive reactions thunder from the surrounding speakers. “Daddy!” my children scream. “Hi, babies!” he answers.
Our children, in their new neon-colored clothes run to his open arms. Their laughter, loud and boisterous, echoes throughout the theater.
We fall in with him, walking toward a glowing sunset and feeling the warmth of the day. Our shoulders, no longer drooping, push back and our hands, no longer searching, encircle and graze over his. The credits begin to roll as we stand, stoic and proud, basking in the colorful glow of happiness.
When they are sleeping soundly and happily in their beds, I turn to him. When all is quiet, I release stories of our life without him. I tell him about our growing children, about our lives apart from him. He responds, telling jokes and filling the air between us. I laugh. So hard and full that I begin to realize how empty I feel when he isn’t next to me.
A tear fills my eyes, and he leans in, his hands cupping my face. “You okay?” he asks. I sigh. Feeling the heat radiating from his hand. “Yeah,” I say. “I just realized that I don’t laugh when you are gone. Well, I mean….I do. I enjoy myself. But, I don’t laugh until I’m dizzy unless you are next to me.” The tear that haunted him falls from my eye. He wipes it clean, leans into my ear, and whispers, “Then we will just learn to exist between the laughs.”
I can’t imagine any other way.