There are two men in my life who love me. The first today hugged me hard enough to break my back. It has been a few months since we have seen each other and saw each other today only because we were together for a wake for my uncle, for him the man who had been like a second father to him, his sister's husband, his friend. My father had a beer in one hand, eyes yellowed with unshed tears and though he talked and talked there were many things he didn't say. His pride in me is like a brand, or maybe it is more like the tattoo he gave himself as a too-young man, the hot needle prick of ink persisting forever. For me it says remember, remember, remember where you came from.
And I always will remember, because despite the fact that I've taken the name of the second man for my own, I've chosen to publish with both, when I do.
Tonight I dropped a tea tray on my foot. The clatter and cursing were more serious than the wound warranted, but my husband was up and out of his office chair in an instant, teasing with me only when he'd established that the hurt was not severe. Still I strip my tights and he cleans my busted big toe over the sink, bandages with the light pressure of his thumbs and forefingers. Before I met him I would've let fingers and toes rot off before I'd waste a bandage, but I've grown more fond of his careful attention in moments like these than I have my own limbs.
"You might lose the nail," he warns, brows arched in all seriousness. "It'll take years to grow back."
At least I'll have good company.