Reading Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

This morning, I am reading a story by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer called “Wolves” that really is about wolves — that is, the main character, the female of a silent couple, has conjured the creature from a comment her husband of 40 years has made in passing one day, and now she keeps its existence a secret from him. The husband, of course, suspects its presence. When the woman goes to their bed at night, the husband says, “You smell of something wild.” Then it turns out the husband, too, has his own wolf, which he keeps a secret from his wife.

The wife makes preparations:

“In the house,” she said, “I have many bottles of yellow pills. I saved them up. I never wanted to die slowly. I never wanted people walking back and forth, with me planted like a bathtub in the middle of a kitchen, saying pitying things, washing me and holding their noses, asking themselves, ‘Why won’t she die?’ But this, this would be better. It’s a terrible thing to do to the ones who stay behind, ending your own life.”

Last night, hubby started coughing — his coughs were like little explosions, involving major aspirations of air and God-knows-what-else. He claims I made him sick. It’s so strange: the man was perfectly healthy when he walked in the door last night; wasn’t aware that you could catch a cold that quickly.

All of this reminds me of the time when I was pregnant with our son, and developed a craving for sushi. Three, four times a week, I would feel the craving. Strangely, my husband, too began to develop a similar craving. And when we saw our credit card bills over the months leading up to the birth of our son, it was amazing to see how many Japanese restaurants we had eaten in, both of us ordering the same things. I believe what my husband experienced has a name: sympathetic pregnancy.

When my son was six, he developed chicken pox. A few days later, I did too. A day after I came down with it, my husband began to develop itchy red splotches on his skin. Until then, I had hoped I could get him to do the groceries and help me cook. But no, his chicken pox was absolutely the worst of all us three. So there we were, stuck at home for two weeks, all three of us. And it wasn’t even like we could treat it as a holiday, because hubby was in a bad mood about having to be stuck at home (though I was happy, ecstatic even, to have an excuse to be off work, and if hubby hadn’t been home as well, griping, and still having to be fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I would have been in heaven).

At 3 AM, we were both still up: I reading my book, and he on a brand new laptop that his new bosses have given him. I despaired of ever getting to bed — so restless, and every time I’d be about to drop off, random images would pop into my head, such as the SWAT team member who cried and said that the worst thing about collecting the bodies of the murdered Virginia Tech students was how silent the classrooms were, the only noise the students’ cell phones going bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzzz repeatedly — they’d been set on vibrate because the students had been in class, and he knew family and friends were desperately trying to reach them.

Early on Tuesday morning, a young pastor sat with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, being interviewed. He, like almost everyone from the university, was very calm. After the interview had gone on for some minutes, he suddenly said, “God can be found, even here.” When he said it, he stopped and I saw him suddenly look down. His lips were trembling. “Yes, He can be found even here,” he whispered again. A few days later, I read that this was the man who had to accompany the police when they took the families one by one into a private room to break the news that their children were dead.

I also remembered random bits and pieces of other news: the dog food re-call (and I had just picked up a 30-lb. bag of R/D dry dog food from San Carlos Pet Hospital yesterday — $49), widening and ever-widening.

All these disconnected bits of information, floating in some kind of ether in my brain, but finally I did fall asleep around 3:30. And when I awoke at 6:30, I had not forgotten everything I had read the night before, so was able to finish the story about the wolves.

Wonder what this weekend will be like, since it looks like both hubby and myself are sick?

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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