Staying in Love and Hope

What does he see when he looks at me now?
Does he even see me?
A version of me, certainly
But the real me?

Only ten years have passed but a lifetime has happened
Children will do that
They will multiply the time that passes
They will make the time go faster

I miss days and nights spent snuggling on worn couches
Fake fights over who will be big and little spoon
Love notes on car windshields
Deep conversations well past bedtime

Now we often sit on separate sides of a new couch
Him with his laptop perched where I used to be
Me wrapped in a blanket and clutching a book or a journal or Instagram
Hoping for an invitation, a smile, a look, eye contact, any contact

We watch a show about lives that are not our own
So we do not have to think about the lives that are our own
We drink wine when we crave water
And gulp coffee in the morning.

The king bed we bought is large
We thought it made sense
Two kids that show up at 3am can easily fit between us
But even before 3 there are a million pillows
Soft, sumptuous barriers
That keep us comfortably separated

And that is what we are often:
Comfortably separated
Civil roommates
Co-parenting in place
Consciously coupled
Something like that

This is not what I thought love would look like
Perhaps it isn’t what love looks like
It is what staying looks like
And staying can be hard

But then there is hope
And it is hope that keeps us
There’s that long embrace
A soft kiss
A good conversation
The pile of dishes done without asking

Recognition of resentment
Framing forgiveness
Offering ourselves
Broken, sinful, messy
Oh so messy
But also all of us

There is movement towards each other
It is not even a step at first
More like a slight sigh
But then we breathe in unison again

There are still hiccups
Moments of staying
Moments where Love and Hope are on vacation
But they always seem to make it home

And a blessing, a benediction
This is a season
And seasons change
And I feel a glimmer that our next season could be spring

This Red Tent woman has requested to remain anonymous. We applaud her courage to risk sharing this part of her story with our community; it is our privilege to honor and protect her identity.