Come sit on my bed with me, Mom.
One of my favorite invitations. She says it often, although usually we are piled on top of my bed when she's home. We watch bad televison and talk through most of it. I ask her how I'm supposed to get over to the bed. The floor is cluttered with clothes and books and empty glasses that should have been carried out to the kitchen the night before.
Just step over it.
Her suitcases are open. Empty. Waiting.
I make my way over to her bed. Move over, I tell her. There's no room on this little bed for us both. I jockey for the spot next to her. I am cold.
Earlier, my husband and I are sitting in the living room. We can feel each other's sadness. Her time here is coming to an end.
It's your fault for raising a bright, ambitious girl who had to go to college and see the world. He is teasing me.
She makes me laugh when we go out together. She eats a plate of mussels and sips a beer called "Fat Tire." I am intrigued. I am not a mussel eater or a beer drinker. She offers me a taste of both.
For the first time, I see I am sitting with a person. A person with her own mind, her own tastes, her own life. A person moving away again.
As it should be.
I tell my husband, Maybe If I hadn't read to her so early, maybe if I hadn't taken her to all those galleries and museums, she would have just been content to stay home and work down the street. I am teasing him back.
We raised her to leave.
I walk into her room today and see the floor is cleaned up. The glasses have been taken to the sink, the suitcases are holding her neatly folded clothes. You all packed up? It's a silly question. She knows I will miss her terribly. She knows I could not be more proud of her if I tried.
I am already cold. Her sweater hangs over the chair and I slip it on.
I think how it must feel to be the girl inside this sweater. So much talent, so much promise. Moving to a new city, working alongside the big dogs.
We will have to adjust again, he and I.
He promises he will do more for himself. Think about himself for a change.
I know I can't hold him to it.
I am suffocating under the weight of his sadness.
There is life in the house when she is here. Bright and colorful, like Dorothy landing in Oz. As the door shuts behind her, it fades to grey.
I will be cold for a few days after she leaves. I think about stealing the sweater.
It will shield me against the inevitable chill that fills the house.
I have no armour for the grey that will surround us like thick fog.