Her eyes stung and she blinked hard, trying to clear the heavy haze from too much crying. Sadness draped her frame and cloaked her face, as she leaned wearily against the back of her bedroom door. She had known this week was going to be rough, but as so often happens, theory and planning fall like dry tinder before the raging fire of a lived life. It all looked so simple from months away, but now the heat and pressure were making it hard to breathe.
Was it just yesterday that she had graduated? College graduation is supposed to be a big deal, she had presumed. For the blood, tears, stress and debt it incurred, it really should be- and yet, hers was not. She kept telling herself it was okay, that it really didn’t matter- and she knew that was true. Mostly. But her eyes still stung thinking about hearing her name called to silence. It didn’t matter.
Graduation was just an addendum to an already overflowing week, capped by two solid days of offloading her and her children’s personal belongings. The plan was, two days after graduation, the moving truck would be there and she had to downsize by half. The sunburned cheeks of her friends at church that morning had given tell to whom had spent the weekend in her yard. Tears sprung to her eyes again. Gratitude. Shame for missing the cheers. Humility for feeling undeserving of an outpouring of love from so many friends.
The kids were starting to peck at each other, and her daughter called through wondering about dinner. There was a phone ringing, but she wasn’t going to try and find it. Let the machine get it. It could join the twenty-eight other messages never to be listened to. The kids’ father was coming by to take them to Chuck E Cheese for dinner with their Nana. She had forgotten it was also Father’s Day. Fortuitous, since they were now out of paper plates and bowls, and she didn’t have a clue what she could throw together from the cupboard leavings. Everyone was tired of frozen or fast food.
Flopping on her stomach on the soft bed, she thought she would just close her eyes for a moment. Her daughter was now out in the yard calling for the neighbor’s cat. The next two days yawned before her and she wished with fervent exhaustion for a pass on this one. Nope. Truck comes tomorrow at noon.
She closed her eyes, and the relief brought a fresh welling of hot stinging tears. So tired. She tried to only think about the next five minutes, most of which she wished for sleep. She’d lived in this little house for two and a half years, and in her neighborhood for just over ten years. Two of her three babies had been born there, and some of the most amazing people called her their friend. Yet she was packing up and leaving. Why? Why couldn’t she just stay?
Every time she contemplated it, her gut locked up, and she’d feel sick. She didn’t know why she had to go, but she knew it was time, and if she tried to force it, things here would start to unravel. It was just the way it worked. As frightening as it was, the idea of not listening to whispers to her spirit telling her it was time to fly- was far more terrifying. So there she flopped. Exhausted beyond all imagined reason, but hearing her kids’ father pull into the drive and the familiar knock on the door.
She rubbed her eyes and sat up as she listened to the kids shriek with happiness that cheap pizza and skeeball were in their immediate future. The backdoor rang, and she realized she had forgotten the people who bought the washer and dryer were picking up, and she headed downstairs to pull the last load of laundry from the dryer.
As a testament to her exhaustion, she noticed there was a couch on her front lawn still from the weekend. She stood at the window, arms full of warm dry laundry, and idly wondered what would happen to it. She had been sitting on that brand-new couch nursing her oldest son when the first plane hit the tower nearly eleven years ago. Now, it was a yard decoration. And she just didn’t care.