I glance down at my husband's hands as he holds our six month old daughter and my breath catches in my throat. There's a deep imprint on his left ring finger, one that I never noticed before.
It used to hide underneath his wedding ring.
I've cried more tears over losing my marriage than I'd like to admit. It's been a long, hard grieving process and the most difficult part is that it's still not over. We aren't separated by divorce papers or custody agreements. Instead, we're separated by sixty miles of hurt, anger and, most upsetting, indifference.
I used to take solace in the quote, "The night is always darkest before the dawn", but now it terrifies me. How much darker is it going to get? I could've sworn it was time for the sun to rise. How many more tears does my baby's head have to soak in before it's all over?
"Why don't you want to work this out?" I ask him over and over. He loses his patience, refuses to answer the question or says something hurtful. The man I loved, the man I married, would've given anything to keep his family, to keep me. I never questioned that man's loyalty, love or dedication. I would have never asked him "Why don't you want to work this out?" because I would have already known the answer: I love you. I love us. We'll be okay.
My eyes feel full all the time, like if I give myself even one second to grieve, the tears will start and never, ever stop. I feel like I'm sixteen again, sitting in the floor of my pink bedroom with "I Love Lucy" on the television. It could've passed for the bedroom of a teen girl in the 1950s if it weren't for the computer against the wall, open to MySpace, so I could torture myself with the profile of the girl that my boyfriend chose over me.
But this is harder because I don't know what my husband has chosen over me. Over Alice. Over our family. Everyone asks me if there's another woman, if he's on drugs, if he's having a midlife crisis and all I can say is, "I don't think so". But what else do I say? There's no clear cut answer other than, "He doesn't want to be with me."
And I'm too embarrassed and ashamed and devastated to say that out loud.
That night, I watch my daughter sleep in my childhood bedroom as the stars from her humidifier's projection play on the ceiling. I stare at the dark eyelashes curled against her rosy cheeks, the perfect button nose that she refuses to have wiped, her tiny rump up in the air with her knees tucked underneath her body. It took nearly two hours to get her to sleep, but I did it. My frustrated tears are dried to my cheeks and my arms ache from holding her little body to keep her from screaming.
I remember how I cried out that this wasn't fair, that I should have somebody else helping. I carried her up and down the halls of my mother's house, anger burning through my chest as I thought about how nice it must be to sleep, to not have to worry about your child, to not finally get the baby to sleep and know that you don't have long before she's up again for the darkest part of the night, literally and figuratively.
But as I turn to leave the room, I stop and whisper a little prayer: "Please God, let the night pass quickly. Bring the dawn for all of us." And then I run my thumb over my own left ring finger imprints, the ones that hid behind my engagement and wedding ring, before closing the door.