I watched the feelings unfold like a flower in stop motion. She walked into the room with a slump in her shoulder and a crease in her forehead, and it broke my heart. She looked tired. Not just didn't-get-enough-sleep-last-night, or had-a-long-day tired. She looked worn. Slowly threadbare. Then she looked up and there was this moment of honest relief, and when I felt her arms around me it was as though I was anchoring her to the moment, keeping her from remembering whatever it was she had been going through.
As we sat, her head on my lap, my fingers in her hair like always, I watched her face slip in and out of that same fatigue. I asked because I had to ask, but never too deeply because that kind of tired only comes when talking about it on anyone else's terms has stopped doing any good, so mostly I sat and waited because silence stopped being an absence of communication between us a long time ago, and I couldn't say or do anything to make it better. Make it fixed. Doc Brown could. I could only say the things like, "Give it time." But what good would that do? She can't very well actively make time pass. "Things will get better." They might. They might get better. They don't get better for everyone. Sometimes they get worse. Sometimes people don't recover. Probably, for her, they would get better, but who am I to tell her what things would happen? I didn't predict this.
So instead of empty words I gave full attention, and we sat –my fingers in her hair, her head on my lap – staring at the ceiling, waiting for the silence to become oppressive.