This Is a Secret

My husband said we were going to live there.

And then he said we never would.

And it was like that, back and forth, back and forth.

“Do you want to go to Warsaw?” he asks me now. And I just look at him. It’s not fun for me anymore. To go down there. Just to stare it in the face, what we’re going to lose. To experience it. It’s easier to stay home and watch TV. Lots and lots of TV.

It was my favorite way to spend the weekend. To go down to Warsaw and see my father-in-law Chase. To drink and have dinner. To walk the grounds. To look at the leaves, falling from the trees.

Because it was always a party. Because Chase lived there and it was his house and I loved looking at all of his art and paintings. And talking to him. And imagining a life for us there. Someday.

But that was before. Before Chase got sick. Before he almost died. Before he came back from the edge of death and now lives in a Veteran’s Center a few miles from our house that has twenty-four hour care. Before we realized that the only way to pay for it is to sell Warsaw.

Now, we pick Chase up from the Center and bring him over on Sundays. We watch football. I try to cook for him. Sometimes he eats it. Sometimes he spits it out into a napkin, other times he gives it to the dog. He stumbles around with his walker. He is briefly happy and distant. Still with a foot placed firmly in death.

I drive him back to the Center in the dark. Down a long, lonely stretch of road lit by neon, the ugliest road in the world.

He says, “What about Warsaw?” into the dark. “You all could live there.”

And I think my heart will break.

But it doesn’t. There are a million heartbreaks in this world. And this is a minor one. People have far, far worse problems. I know that.

Still, I hate to lose it.

“She’s living in a fantasy,” my brother-in-law said. Which stung. Because it’s true and not true. Everybody lives in a fantasy. You could say his life is a fantasy too. He’s a missionary. He gets to travel the world and say it’s God’s work.

It’s the power of interpretation is what I’m saying. Fantasy vs. reality. What is real and not real.

But still. It stays with me. What he said and what my husband says and I think what my co-workers must believe too. That I have been living in a fantasy for too long. That maybe it’s time to stop.

To stop living in a dream that will never come true.

That house has always been a metaphor for me in one way or another. A dream.

And I think, it is probably time to stop thinking I’m going to publish this book. That I’m going to publish any of these books. That it is time to pack it all in. Give up. Focus on making money for my kids.

Perhaps. Perhaps that’s what I should do.

But you know I can’t do that.

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