Summer Heat

By Sarah Kilch Gaffney

We are a little over three months out from my husband’s deployment (his first since I’ve known him), and I don’t know if the dog is sick or if her age is just catching up with her, and it is high summer in the thick of the pandemic that shut everything down a few weeks after our youngest daughter’s birth, and we are picking blackberries and cherry tomatoes by the fistful, but I felt my heart collapse halfway through the day and I haven’t yet recovered, so tonight I put frozen chicken nuggets in the microwave while my husband finished up a shift in the ICU and I juggled the children and threw food from the fridge into the trash because I couldn’t remember how old it was, and I tried to remember that a year is not forever (and that I know actual forever intimately), and that I know in my head he’s more likely to die in a car accident any day on 295, or maybe even be struck by lightning, but the rogue cells in my first husband’s brain and our daughter giving him one last kiss in a hospital bed have left me little belief in odds or likelihoods or just the default thought that things will work out and everything will be okay, and now the baby is pink and sweaty in the evening heat, and she coos while the three-year-old screams, and the dragonflies in the yard swoop voraciously through the watercolor sky while I pour dishwater into the sink.

Sarah Kilch Gaffney is a writer, brain injury advocate, and homemade caramel aficionado living in Maine.


Photo by Jeff Kallet.

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