There have been many silences in my years of marriage, some lasting a few hours, others days. In the early days of marriage my husband's silences drove me mad, drove me to tears, drove me out of my mind. Certain things have been known to trigger his cold withdrawal. Strangely, one of those triggers is me doing laundry. I work full time. He's home full time. We flipped roles in 2008. Extremely territorial about his jobs, yet declining in health, the laundry started to pile up.
6:30 a.m. in our kitchen oldest boy walks in, wearing his socks, shirt and underwear: "Mom do you know where my pants are?" I ask him to check with Melanoma Man, wet laundry in the washer. Oldest son starts checking the night before for clothes. I step in to pick up the slack, not realizing I am picking up Melanoma Man's self worth, proof of value. Silence ensues. I am in the deep freeze again. I am used to it now. It doesn't make me cry anymore. In the past few weeks he even thanked me for doing laundry. We did laundry together once, me toting the heavy basket that now leaves him short of breath. That is how I came to think of myself as the Laundry Thief. Tonight Oldest, Youngest and I do laundry together, while we wait for Melanoma Man's return from the Cancer Center with news of three shrinking tumors.