After the affair and the moving out, after the destructive revivifying passion, we watched her life quiet into a new one, her lover more and more on its periphery. She spent many nights alone, happy for the narcosis of the television. When she got cancer she kept it to herself until she couldn't keep it from anyone. The chemo debilitated and saved her, and one day her husband asked her to come back — his wife, who after all had only fallen in love as anyone might who hadn't been in love in a while — and he held her, so different now, so thin, her hair just partially grown back. He held her like a new woman and what she felt felt almost as good as love had, and each of them called it love because precision didn't matter anymore. And we who'd been part of it, often rejoicing with one and consoling the other, we who had seen her truly alive and then merely alive, what could we do but revise our phone book, our hearts, offer a little toast to what goes on.
"What Goes On", from What Goes On by Stephen Dunn. Copyright © 2009 by Stephen Dunn. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company. All rights reserved.