Some times, all of a sudden.
One morning greets us chilled, and the next breathes hazy and warm… by next week we’ll have celebrated the longest day. From summer’s solstice the days following shorten by degrees, ever so slightly. And we hardly notice.
Then too soon treasured moments of summer daylight lessen as this season hangs on, lingering at our door… offering swimmers and boaters, campers and hikers another weekend, or maybe two, for venturing outside. Just one more time.
But sometimes the passing from one season to the next stretches over days and shifting into weeks, like a woman changing her mind and her clothes—this skirt with that top or the other…tee-shirt or sweater…?
The final summer of prolonging the inevitable letting-go, of slipping in and out of sight before urging me to accept what changes lie ahead… demanding concession, adjustment, a re-positioning of responsibilities.
Whether I am ready, or willing, or not.
Because time goes by and life goes on.
And now, here we are—
just the two of us.
Our nest is not quite empty. After all, two adults still reside at this address.
But the nest is no longer full.
Many things have changed in our thirty-some years sharing the same name, since first dining at a borrowed table in a converted garage/apartment. Before there were three or four, and more of us in this clan called family.
All this because two people fell in love.
Those early years seem so far away. Another place. A distant time. Two very different people.
How quiet those hours ticked by when life stretched farther ahead than the life past…
without demands of little ones or schedules of older kids to maneuver around,
when budgets were kept in neat rows,
when beds were always made,
and cleaning and sorting took place at regular intervals…
Conversations started and finished with no interruptions,
and doors never slammed without help from the wind.
Where colored marks and fingerprints, on floors and walls did not exist,
No girlish giggles were ever heard behind a hot pink door –
there was no hot pink door –
no Lego bricks and pirate wars,
no children’s shrieks or teenage songs, or piano keys bouncing up and down.
No socks ever strayed adrift, to rest all alone in a dark drawer without their mates…
Alien stains did not appear on car upholstery,
leaving me to wonder how or why or what in the world?!?
Do I dare press my nose to investigate?
Somehow as seasons changed, the sunrises and sunsets turned into years,
as this family relocated from place to place,
and numbers grew and chairs around the table filled, as furnishings multiplied and rooms enlarged,
while time behind me now streams longer, farther, to a place beyond the remembering,
and time ahead slips here and then there… and too fast time disappears.
And the newly all-grown-up ones no longer fit in the crook of my arm or require their chubby hand gripped in a larger hand when walking through the mall.
In the rhythm of daybreak and day’s beginnings and endings, bringing in months, and ushering out the same to introduce new dates on next year’s calendar,
when colorful candle celebrations mark the years and inches grown, after each squirming miracle pushed its way out of this nurturing cocoon of warm human flesh, and into the world…
where diapers and bottles and tricycles and workbooks gave way to cell phones and textbooks, wallets, keys…
Then suddenly last summer, no one was left to lick the beaters.
She’s gone, a voice within reminded.
We-elll… not yet, I insist. She’s just working. And babysitting. And hanging out with friends… and…
But she will be soon. Very soon, the voice says, fading… foreboding.
I shake my head, scrape the beaters and pour molten chocolate into the pan. Going through the motions of housekeeping is my arsenal against this emotional battle inside. No time for surrendering to tears when there’s so much to do.
She’s still here, I repeat. Still a couple months to enjoy her, before—
and besides, she’ll come back, because this is still home. And she won’t be gone forever.
The first one made his way long ago. A little boy turned Marine. Six feet and a couple inches tall, stopped in before and after deployment. Still calls, still shows up for special occasions or in between relocating, still loves home cooking.
And the last one quickly finds her way now, not completely on her own, but making plans, filling out applications, opening accounts, traveling by air, sending texts in place of hugs…
While the original two sit at their table on most evenings in a house now quiet.
In many ways, we two remain the same, yet in viewing us more closely, we’ve grown into more solid selves. Much the same as our children grow… as wildflowers and baby chicks and new calves grow. Transformed by the changing of seasons… just as the landscape alters over time, and a new season is upon us,
whether we notice or not.
To be continued…