Her shoulder aches as she reaches across her body to silence the alarm clock. Typically she would go for a walk but the pouring rain gives her an excuse to skip it. Showering in the dark reminds her of the scars on her body and how it doesn’t work as well as it used to. Today her hair is thick and dark but she remembers a time when it was sparse, thin and falling out. She dresses apathetically. None of the men she works with care what she wears. Today she doesn’t care either. Day breaks but she’s indifferent to the rising sun. A mug of hot tea is drunk thoughtlessly. She picks up things others have left behind as she walks through the house.
Treasures from the day before include a hairbrush she had been looking for earlier and the crumpled soccer jersey her daughter wore to last night’s game. She closes a bag of snacks and arranges the shoes by the door. Imagining life without her daughter brings a lump to her throat. When she opens her daughter’s bedroom door she smiles sadly as a wave of profound love runs through her. In the car the music is lackluster and uninspiring. The rain has died but the air is heavy with mist and unshed tears. She drives slowly and carefully. Her lunch sits in a bag her husband bought her. He’s back at home, still asleep in their bed. Thinking about him is too painful. She concentrates on the traffic and weather reports instead.
At work she answers phone calls and exchanges pleasantries with her co-workers. No one notices that she’s moving more slowly today. She feels every day of her forty-odd years. Her knee throbs as she walks down the hall. The to-do list on her desk overwhelms her. She picks up a pen and the list, grabs her phone and starts making calls. By ten o’clock she’s made eleven calls. At noon the list has been cut in half. The call she’s been waiting for comes just before three. It comes at the same time her daughter would be done with school for the day. She picks her cell-phone up anxiously, simultaneously wanting to hear what the doctor has to say and dreading speaking with him.
When the call is finished she sets her phone down. Her work for the day is almost done. Just a few more names on her list of people to call. Numbly she pushes buttons on her cell-phone. Her husband answers before the first ring tone finishes. He’s been waiting for her call, a burst of pain blossoms in his chest because he understands that for people like her there is an indescribable difference between living your life and being really, truly alive.