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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

It is not as early as it seems when I wake to the sound of rain hitting the window, but the house is still dark. I check the clock. Eight thirty. I sneak out of my bed and into his. I burrow myself into his right side with my head tucked into his shoulder. My hand rests on his heart. I press my palm in and feel the layers, the prickly curly hair on his chest, the warmth of skin below, and finally the thump thump of his heart. I think for a moment. "This heart belongs to me." The thought is not one of arrogance or ownership as much as it is one of responsibility. I lay there a moment feeling the weight of this and then a memory flashes through my frontal lobe. I am sitting on Misti's couch, a coffee mug nestled in my hands while tears stream down my face. And the sadness washes over me. I feel the tears dripping and sliding down onto his shoulder. I let it happen. I take the moment to remember things lost and be grateful for things gained. 

The moment passes quickly. There's a shift and I get up and blow my nose. I make us breakfast and we watch CBS Sunday Morning. We divide and concur the chore list. I take apart the stove and shove it over to clean under it. He comes in to remove the dead mouse I find under the stove. He vacuums. I mop. Between the two of us, we get the house clean and ready for Thanksgiving. I start thinking about when I'm going to bake some pies. He runs through the list of things on our menu, checking to be sure we have all the ingredients. Of course we're missing a couple of things. He goes to the store while I finish up laundry. We eat Planet Subs for lunch. We have sex. We make grown-up Mac-n-Cheese for dinner. We watch TV. That moment from the morning completely passes by as if it didn't even happen. In a way it didn't. Michael was sleeping. He didn't know I was crying into his shoulder. It was such a small insignificant moment, memory. But then I remember. "This heart belongs to me." 

I am hesitant at times. I can shove and push things away with might. No one knows this better than he does. Once, after a particularly bad day, Michael told me that it didn't matter how miserable I was , he wouldn't give up without a fight. He was joking about the miserable part. Or maybe he was joking. He's tenacious. I'll give him that. He wedges in here. Throws his foot in the door there. I've agreed to have Thanksgiving here. The last time Thanksgiving was hosted in this house, Chris and I were new  homeowners and then in a few short months Chris was dead. So yeah...I push and shove. I am hesitant. Timid.

There are two ways to get into a cold pool on a warm summer day. You can jump in and take in the coldness all at once or you can ease in one toe at a time. I'm in about chest deep here. My heart is used to this temperature now.

"This heart belongs to me."