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What do you pretend?

Often people compliment my ability to carry the weight of ‘this’ as if I had any other choice. There is no other option. I carry fear. I carry anger. I carry guilt. I hold onto it for my daughter. My husband. My friend. Sometimes I drop it and I fall apart, but it’s as if nobody really notices.

Once I fell apart and sobbed in my bed. The tears stained my pillow with salt and black mascara. My body trembled, keeping my partner from falling asleep. Leaving him with an immense feeling of helplessness. I know that feeling. I’ve been carrying it myself for almost five years.

Other times I can take a deep breath and hold in all the things I hope the people around me never have to feel. I can swallow and make words without tears. In those moments I pretend to feel strong. How do you carry around the stopwatch that counts the hours your daughter has left with her father. The minutes you have left with your longest friend. The seconds you have left to say your final words.

Somebody once asked me, what do you pretend?

I pretend I know how to carry this.

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