Upon opening a book of short stories edited by Judith Kitchen to see how many pages there were, the last entry, called The Art of Sighing by Bernard Cooper caught my eye and I read through it. The tale brought me back to my own experience of sighs. I was never aware of sighing myself until it was pointed out by the man I married that I was sighing, again. By that time it was just one of many of my behaviors that distressed him and I imagine the reason for my frequent long exhalations was the hopeless condition I perceived our marriage to have arrived at.
Once our contract was dissolved and I moved with the children twice to try to salvage something of family life and some degree of normalcy, living within an hour’s drive of my parents and assorted relatives within easy reach I do not remember sighing with any regularity.
It was that unspeakably busy time in life when working full time downtown, taxiing the children to all of their activities and friends’ houses, or walking the half mile to our parish church, or the high school for meetings, basketball games, keeping the household afloat, and food on the table, I could not keep track of such things as an occasional sigh.
However, when my long fragile mother was admitted to the hospital for the last time, and the children’s father ended up here for a short visit due to a personal crisis he was in the midst of, we had not seen him since he took the train from Chicago to Naperville six years earlier, it seems the sigh became a part of my behavior again. As I took a roasted chicken, a pot of cooked rice and a salad from the kitchen and put them on the dining room table for them, since I had to drive to the hospital and did not know at what hour I might return, I became as aware of sighing regularly as I had been unaware of sighing at any other time.