It’s the first full day of summer. I’m sitting alone listening to the rain quietly patter the roof and the windows in the kitchen. Sipping hot coffee in the dim light. Poppy is snoring. David is in the shower and the kids are all still asleep.
We don’t have any plans today but Ella is sick so that kind of limits things. They will probably watch movies all day. But they did that yesterday. And the day before. Summertime colds are the worst…
My mind is pregnant with ideas…things I should do…things I need to do…things that would be fun to do…but I feel a very distinct lack of direction. And a very distinct sense that the sand is pouring through the hourglass at an alarmingly fast pace. Only two summers left until Kate leaves…and then William. And then Henry. Poor Ella will be suffocated with my love and affection when she hits high school (which is coincidentally just about the time she’ll start rolling her eyes at me with a fervor that only a teenager can master.)
The rain is coming in more steadily now. I think I’ll sit and listen to it for a while and fold a load of laundry. No matter what, there is always laundry, isn’t there?
Every day is a gift…make it count.
I honestly don’t remember a day when I wasn’t in love with you, David Paul. Some days I wake up and think
Oh my God, he is still here
because I can’t even imagine why you would stick around with me…and yet there you are.
And for twenty years, you have come back home to me every night. I can believe there were times that it didn’t seem like an entirely desirable option. But you came home anyway, poured yourself a bourbon and walked straight into the fire. Sometimes I think I may have even heard you whistling…
I guess this means we’re really stuck with each other. We’re actually going to make it.
I guess I always knew we would.
Happiest anniversary David. I would marry you all over again. Every time, without fail, I would choose you.
We were together.
I forget the rest.
It rained last night. The trees bear that in their color…the trees, the grasses and the fields full of blue Chicory flowers and Queen Anne’s Lace.
I turned off, onto the old winding road and drove slowly, trying to avoid holes and making my best attempt to find the smooth patches of dirt among the rippled gravel. She was beside me, but quiet. The early morning sun flickered through the canopy of trees, and I could feel emotions swell within me.
We aren’t the way we used to be.
We aren’t the same.
When we got to the barn, she began to put her boots on. I touched her hair, swept it behind her ear and said
“I miss how we used to be.”
And she said nothing.
There was silence that felt like a boom.
I remember once saying that she would outgrow me, but I would never outgrow her.
I think it is happening.
She is outgrowing me.
I didn’t know it would feel like this.
I remember those days, those halcyon days, wrapped warmly with you and that big, gentle dog…sitting by the fire…dreaming as you slept.
I remember them like they were yesterday…the sound of the fire…the smell of your downy hair…the way your fingers unfurled when I touched your cheek. The way my heart felt…as though cannons were fired from within.
You are almost grown now…it was not yesterday.
Today you are fifteen years old. You’re better than those dreams I dreamed, you know.
And the cannons…the cannons are still firing, Kate.
Happy fifteenth birthday baby girl…
“It will probably be the last lesson in the upper ring. It’s getting too dark.”
“Oh” I said, a little inquisitively. “I’ve never been to the lower ring.”
“Me neither. It has lights.”
I hadn’t expected the contemplation in her voice. I had expected her to tell me what the lower ring was like, or where it was, or to say that she had been down there once or twice. I had expected her to be happy about this new experience, however small the change might be. But always, with her, there is a hesitancy…a tentative posture, almost as though she is waiting for me to react before she does.
She left to tack up her horse.
I sat in the quiet, watching the wind ruffle itself through the trees. Watching the leaves spin to the ground, catching flickers of the early evening sunlight. Watching her graceful figure walk to the upper ring for the last time, until the light shines in our favor again.
She lifts her face to the sun. To her, there are no shadows. Just warmth and light, and a soft place to lay down.
I drove Kate to school today. It was in the forties this morning but today it was sunny, so I opened the sun roof and let the sun warm my face as I drove home. Most Mondays I am full of a kind of joy that is hard to express in words…everything is beautiful — the rain, the sun, dead leaves swirling in the wind, the sound of the dryer, the finger prints on the windows…
This morning didn’t feel like that, though.
I was a big fat meanie last night. It doesn’t really matter why. I was mean. I left. I drove around the neighborhood, up and down the streets, past warmly-lit houses. I drove to the plaza and sat in the parking lot at 8:30 watching people go in and out of the store. Watching their puffs of breath in the chilly air. Wondering what they were doing there…what they were buying…where they lived…what their life was like. Watching a stray leaf fall here and there, making its slow spiral to the ground in the lamplight. Wondering what just happened to me. Wondering what my family was doing. Wondering if my kids were worried about where I was. Remembering things that were said to me, and things that I said.
I went home and Ella was already asleep. Her hair was still wet from the shower. She fell asleep with a pillow over her head because Kate was vacuuming at bedtime and it was too loud. I took the pillow off, and straightened her hair out with my fingers. She always looks so little when she sleeps…she and jellycat in a tangled knot of crimson tresses and nubby fur, fleece polka dots and freckles and loved-off whiskers. She brings me to my knees, the way her face is softly illuminated by the light of the stairway every night. I sat by her for a minute, just breathing.
I am lucky.
God gave me another day.
God gave me today.