Today is June 5.
In one month, on July 5, Shawn will walk Laura down the aisle of a church to an altar where she will marry Matthew and change her name and thereafter move into an apartment that is a seven hour drive from our home.
I am thankful that she has worked hard, successfully graduated from college, and started a relationship with a fine, upstanding young man who comes with aspirations to have a solid career in healthcare and (especially) a deep love for God. There is a lot to be thankful for.
But I think you can be thankful and feel your heart being ripped apart at the same time.
I had a premonition the first time she came home on a college break. It was so good to have her home, in her little bedroom with the yellow striped walls that she painted herself. It was good to have her in her place at the kitchen table, to hear her bantering with her siblings, to smell her perfume in the upstairs hall. But I knew, in a moment, that she would never really live at home again, the way she had before she moved out. Moving out to go to college is much more permanent than anybody realizes at the time. Or maybe I am the only one who didn't realize.
One spring we had robins in our hanging basket by the front door of our Sugar Pine house. I don't remember what year it was, but David was taking clarinet lessons from Jerry Zampino, and for some reason, I was on the phone with Jerry and mentioned to him that a robin had laid three eggs amongst my impatiens. I remember his voice, thoughtful, cloudy with age, confident as only a successful musician is confident, "Oh," he said, "lucky you. You are in for a treat!"
The eggs hatched, and they revealed the ugliest little creatures I'd ever seen in my life. The parents worked frantically to keep them clean and fed. There was much squawking and ado, and we had to watch our heads when going in and out the front door.
Weeks later, a day came when the rain was tinting the grass that deep, deep green that only northeastern grass under northeastern rain ever achieves, a green that glows upwards, illuminating the darkness of the black rain clouds. Stepping out on the front step, I was surprised to see baby robins hopping about in the landscaping mulch while their mother (or father?) squawked with agitation from the nest above.
My instinct was to pick them up and replace them in the nest. As I realized that I could not do this, I also realized that they were never going to go back into that nest. They were out of the nest, never to return. I'd always had the childish notion that a nest was like a house, and the little birds came and went, and at the end of the day they would always return to snuggle up together to sleep. That dark, green, grassy day, I realized that a nest is not like a house. It is like a womb, and once the baby birds leave it, they never return.
Foreboding. Foreshadowing. I couldn't even articulate this in my mind, but I knew it in my heart, and I knew it was a warning to me that my kids were getting big, and that one day, too soon, they also would leave and not come back.
They would meet someone and move seven hours away to Ohio and
I cannot even think about this.
Points of minutia:
1. Piper, too old and skittish to navigate our oak stair steps, never seems to be on the level of the house where I am, and thus he is never happy. When he is upstairs he barks for me. When he is downstairs, he scratches the front door, as though he wants to go outdoors, but really, he wants to be carried upstairs.
2. Our air-conditioner broke two days ago. I've spent two days in the house waiting for The Powers That Be to return my phone calls pleading for service on this issue. Today was a perfect, gorgeous day when I would have liked to be out gardening and walking the dogs. I feel like I wasted the most beautiful day of the year waiting for a phone call. I was so worried about what I would do when the heat comes back, I failed to enjoy the most beautiful day of the year while I had it.
3. Moving back into our kitchen, I finally got all the boxes out of the sun porch except one. The sun porch is now a cute and inviting space with nice seating for reading or relaxing, and a charming conglomeration of wedding decorations stacked to the side. In front of our futon (in sofa position), a WWI army trunk serves as a sort of coffee table, and I spread some Better Homes and Gardens magazines on it. Today I was perusing the headlines of the magazines as I gloated over the improvement of the room. One headline caught my eye:
82 items to simplify your life
That, my good people, is why it all escapes me. If it requires 82 items to simplify my life, I am releasing my guilt and giving up right now.