There's a clock in our living room. It's flanked by two ugly candles.

I love that clock. It was my father's, and now it's mine. It's coated with a black laquer finish, and my father used to pick the clock up with a rag to protect the finish when he wound it every few days. The clock chimes with a deep tone that belies its small size. You could hear it throughout the home I grew up in, and now you can hear it throughout our home. I used to wake up when I was young and heard the clock chime: it told me what time it was and that I was home.

I don't love the candles. They're from my wife's aunt. My wife was very close to her aunt and the candles are part of a collection that are scattered around the house. It would be fair to say that while my wife has adopted the clock–she dusts and winds it for me–I tolerate the candles. It's our house, and we both get to put things in it.

Yesterday I took my wife to the Emergency Room. It was, hopefully, the climax of health problems she's been dealing with this week and with luck she'll be back home tonight or tomorrow.

I came home alone around 10PM to an empty house, something you're not used to after more than 30 years of marriage and 20 years of things being very stable and routine. I cleaned up the kitchen, took care of the dog, and went to bed.

I woke up a few hours later. Even though it was me and the dog lying there, I felt alone. Then I heard my father's clock chime twice.

I thought of the ugly candles.

I was home.