A midnight shiver
|At midnight, Jack awoke and looked over to the lump of covers next to him. He couldn’t see his wife Maria under the heavy blankets, but he knew she was there. He could feel her love, her sadness, and her strength even in the middle of the night, even as she slumbered. He shivered.
Jack and his wife had been through a tough year.
Jack still remembered that night. He had opened the door to find two police officers on his porch with stoic expressions on drawn faces. His stomach had fluttered—this couldn’t be good. His eyes had jumped from one officer’s eyes to the other. Neither had met his gaze. This really wasn’t good. What had happened?
After pausing for a moment, he had asked what was going on. One officer had swallowed hard, his eyes going glassy. The other officer had finally lifted his eyes to meet Jack’s. They were full of sympathy. His stomach had entered freefall before the uniformed man had ever said a word, the man’s eyes warning him of the coming horror before the man’s lips had confirmed it. That confirmation had begun with the hideous offer of condolences, made just prior to the news that Jack’s son was dead and that his wife was in the hospital.
He didn’t really remember anything after that. His next memory was of his arrival by his wife’s side in the critical care wing of the hospital. He had taken her hand in his. He had kissed it. His tears had fallen on it. He had crumpled around it in agony, in despair.
It had been a tough year.
He hadn’t managed to sleep through a night since that one. Midnight was his quiet time, his time to remember.
He looked at the pile of covers that was his wife and shivered again. Thank God for her. He had given Maria back to Jack to help him through this time. It had been difficult at the hospital, not knowing if she would pull through. He was glad she was home now, with him for the remainder of his days. They would both join their son in heaven someday, but for now, they still had a place on earth.
Jack rose from the bed, descended the stairs, and walked into the kitchen for a midnight snack. He set a Calavera de Azucar on a plate and poured a bit of horchata into a glass. His wife had loved both the snack and the drink before the accident, but she hadn’t had it since. She hadn’t felt like eating much since that day--even the traditional Mexican food she had used to prepare from her mother’s recipes. The accident had changed her more, even, than it had him.
He could understand. She had been in the car with him. She had watched their boy die.
He ate his snack, eyes distant in reflection. He drank his drink, heart aching for his son--and for his wife.
Jack walked back upstairs. He stared at the lump of covers for a moment, projecting toward his wife his gratitude, his love. Instinct told him she could feel both.
Jack slipped back into bed, pulling the covers to his chest once more. He picked up his tablet from the nightstand and typed:
“Today makes 49 days since the accident. I don’t know about this diary thing, but the psychologist thinks it will be good for me. I do know that I miss my son. Thankfully, my wife is still with me, giving me strength. She has been. Ever since the day she died.”
Jack turned off the tablet and went back to sleep.