He's lying in our queen size bed, arching his back and then releasing. What yoga pose was that? First the cat, then the cow.
I've never heard a more heartbreaking sound. It's like the sound your dad makes when he's clearing his throat in the morning. The gross gathering of phlegm from the back of the throat, only Mr. E is gathering everything. He's summoning all of his muscles, all of his tendons and veins and arteries and lymph pathways for each push. He collects it all in order to expel it, but the effort exhausts him. And yet he does it again. And again, like clockwork or like breathing.
I was told, time and again, that this happened, so you can't say they didn't warn me. But in my naivete and with the confidence only the young and untried can have, I waved them back. It's all in his head, I assured myself. Somebody isn't doing something right, I preened. He wouldn't do that if I was taking care of him.
But here I sit, as anxious as he ever has been. I didn't think I'd have the stomach to face the contents of his. But I did. I didn't think the handsome strong man I married would be reduced to a shivering feeble mass, his eyes hollow and bloodshot. But he is.
And it's nobody's fault but an imbalance of pesky hormones, those tiny proteins that are known for things like sex and sports. So I'll sit here and wait for the next round because I'm too scared to move dishes or doors in case he's fallen asleep and the dog's head bounces on my wrist as I type because she can't let me out of her sight. Just like him and I.