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Raising a Baby and Living with a Ghost

Photo by: iStock

It’s 3:00am.

The house is dark, and though the air around me is cold enough to see my breath, I am unable to feel the chill. In fact, I wake to find my bed sheets soaked beneath me, the duvet twisted tight around my legs like a vine, and one arm draped awkwardly across the bed to the empty space beside me.

Something has torn me from my dreams, but I can’t quite recall the sound through the fog. I run a hand over the sheets where my husband usually sleeps. They are cold to the touch. A shiver runs through my body as my damp clothes steal my body heat. The empty bed suddenly seems vast and uninviting. Could it really be the same place I once spent long, lazy Sundays with my husband, light streaming in from the window heating our faces and warming our hearts? The memory is distant and fuzzy now; the edges blurred like an old photograph.

I drag my heavy body from its resting place. The moment my feet touch the ground I know something is wrong. A familiar sound calls to me. I can’t hear it, but I can feel it in my stomach and it’s pulling me by an invisible tether.

The room is dark apart from the light from a street lamp shining in through the open window. I’m sure I closed that window before I went to bed. I move to close it and trip over a pair of men’s shoes. Why would these be in the middle of the bedroom floor?

I tell myself I must just have forgotten doing these things. I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. As I head back toward the bed, the eerie sound returns, this time loud enough for me to identify. It is a faint wailing emanating from somewhere in the house.

I wrap a blanket around myself and venture out of the bedroom to find the source. I walk through the kitchen turning on lights as I go, and find that nothing is where I left it the night before. The dining chairs are scattered around the room, there is a loaf of bread on the floor and a gallon of milk sweating on the counter.

I return the milk to the fridge and continue on to the living room where the crying has now been replaced by a hushed whispering, like the sound of waves crashing against the shore: shoosh shoosh shoosh.

The room is lit only by the television, which I am positive I turned off the night before. I enter the room and I see the faint silhouette of my husband rocking in his favorite chair. His face is pale and his eyes are sunken and tired. He looks different than I remember him, and in that moment I realize I can’t remember when I last looked at his face in the daylight.

I walk toward him and extend my hands. But instead of embracing, a small bundle passes between us. I can feel a chill as his body practically crosses though mine, without touching, once the exchange has been made. We pass each other without saying a word and I take his place in the deep recesses of the recliner. I watch helplessly, longing for a connection, as his body vanishes into the darkness of the kitchen.

I hear the fridge open, the sound of liquid being poured into a glass.

Footsteps on the stairs.

A window creaking open.

Then nothing.

I peer down at the bundle cradled in my arms, and in the eerie glow from the television I see a tiny version of my husband’s mouth twisting into a familiar smile. Some nights I find myself burdened with a heavy sadness, like mourning for my partner, but as the sun rises and the light slowly illuminates the room, I am once again reminded by the sock on the floor, the crumbs on the counter, and the drawers left ajar, that I am not alone in this.

Mary Widdicks is a 31-year-old mom of three. Once a cognitive psychologist, she now spends the majority of her time trying to outsmart her kids (and failing!). Mary’s writing has been featured on other parenting sites such as Mamalode, and Scary Mommy. She is a regular contributor on BLUNTmoms and has been honored as a 2014 Voice of the Year by BlogHer, and Badass Blogger of the Year by The Indie Chicks. Follow her on her humorous parenting blog www.outmannedmommy.com, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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