It’s late, and we have a long drive. The exhaustion of a newborn’s erratic sleeping schedule coupled with an emotionally draining evening has taken their toll on us both. Still, for a man who can wait without complaint in a J.Crew dressing room while I waver between lavender and magenta sidewalk skimmers, this sudden lapse in patience takes me by surprise. He instantly regrets his tone, and too exhausted to be angry, I opt for angsty and passive aggressively insist on driving if he is so tired.
My chest tightens when I picture my grandfather lying unconscious on a hospital room bed, his heart giving way to his age. Streetlights whir by as I struggle to keep my eyes open, and my mind battles the worst-case-scenario. I play out scenes in my head from the original Snow White storybook he read to me so many times as a child, until finally, the wicked queen meets her demise, and we pull into our driveway, the babe asleep in his carseat. Ryan carries his little body into the house. I follow close behind with an embarrassing amount of baby gear towering above me. I stand in the laundry room, wearily letting diaper bag straps fall from my shoulder.
“I’m so sorry,” Ryan turns the corner and pulls me into his chest. My left ear presses against his shirt pocket, and I can hear his heart beating. Thump, thump, thump, thump. In this moment, with the persistent thud of my husband’s healthy heart in my ear, I can only feel grateful. Strong and steady: thump, thump, thump, thump. I return his squeeze, and commit this moment – standing silently together in our unkempt laundry room – to memory. The smell of freshly laundered clothes, thump, junk mail fliers littering the floor, thump, and dim light filtering in from the kitchen, thump thump, because I know one day, hopefully many years from now, I may sit next to his hospital bed, longing for the quiet beating of his heart.