My Guardian

They were talking about sleep on NPR one morning, which I didn't hear because I was sort of sleeping, when my husband said, "You do that sometimes."

"What?" I asked.

"Stop breathing."

"I do?"


He was wrapped all around me and I was snuggled into his chest hair.

"They're saying that people with sleep apnea stress their immune systems, which

kick in when they stop breathing."

"I stop breathing?"

“I have to shake you sometimes --"

"You do?"

"--like this" and he very gently nudged me, just once, like he was nudging a wind-up toy to get it going in another direction.

"Do I start breathing again after that?"

"So far," he said.

And the way he said so far made me think of him lying next to me for over two decades now, listening to each breath I take, scared when he's heard me stop and then nudging me back to life.  He's been keeping watch all these years, knowing full well that a time will come when some breath I take will be my last and he won't be able to nudge me back to life at all.

He does all this while I sleep the night away, never once thinking of him or anyone else.

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