My wife is sick. Stage Four sick. I must hurry home and relieve her parents who have been caring for her since I left for work at 9 a.m. and for our three-year old son since his pre-school day ended at 2 p.m. It is 6:30 p.m., but I am not rushing through the front door.
Instead, I am lying on a massage table in the back room of our local nail salon, trying not to audibly cry as my masseuse works on the knot under my right shoulder blade. The knot is excruciating, but that is not why my tears soak the paper cover of the table. I do not know her name, but I do know that she always works on Tuesday nights and I know this as well— she does not tie back her thick dark hair. My wife had thick dark hair before the chemo.
I cannot define this desire; this deep longing for another woman’s hair to tickle my back. Is this a form of adultery? Of exploitation? To pay a thick-haired stranger to soothe me in this way? Do I take advantage of my wife’s parents? Do I neglect my son who is scared and sad and needs me to come home? Because I will be late. I will blame my boss or the subway or the rain before I cop to this 20-minute reprieve. I am ashamed. I am defiant. But I know what I need. Continue reading Defiant Desire: Grappling With My Sexuality in Widowhood