Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Forty-Four.
This is an expert from my memoir, The Burning Point, where I wrote more about leaving than I ever wished to have known. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local booksellers in the west.
There are two images of David seared into my mind. Both are looking back through a departing window.
The first is from the evening we left Little House. He had accompanied me that day to pick up the twelve-foot rental truck; I was nervous about driving such a large vehicle, and grateful for his willingness to help and again be present.
That evening, after the belongings of a household of four had miraculously been fitted neatly inside what seemed a ridiculously small truck by a crew of friends, it was finally just David and me standing in the warm twilight.
“You’re going to visit us, right?” It was hard to talk over the lump in my throat. He pushed some gravel around with his shoe, his hands shoved deep in his jean pockets. He nodded and looked toward the kids running and laughing on the now-empty Little House lawn. The next day my neighbor was dismantling Bean’s wooden fort and moving it to her backyard for her grandkids. It was the last vestige of us.
My car was loaded and secured on a trailer behind the box truck, and we were waiting on a friend to pick me and the kids up to spend our last night in the Northwest.
“I’m scared,” I whispered.
He looked across the impossible space between us, his own eyes swimming. “I know. You’ve been scared all along, and yet you’ve still managed to do the right thing. You’re the star, Tracy Leigh.” There was an entire sky of love and tenderness in his ragged voice.
He tried to smile but turned and called for the kids. He sat down on the front steps of Little House, and took each child in his lap, holding them close and spoke quiet words of his love meant only for each of their ears. I stood apart, tears streaming down my face, giving them the room for their own memories.
Car wheels crushed over the gravel behind me, and it was time. David helped me buckle the teary kids in the backseat of my friend’s car, leaning in to kiss their salty, rosy cheeks and feel their arms around his neck one more time. He stepped toward the back of the car, his hands shoved deep in his pockets again and his eyes red.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
My chest felt like an anvil was lodged over my heart, where there were worlds built and destroyed between us. There was everything to say, and nothing left to say. “I know…me too.”
“Go.” He laid his open hand gently on the top of the car and tapped three times.
I clicked my seatbelt and turned around to check the kids. Over their three small faces, he stood alone in the driveway of Little House, slowly disappearing from sight as we headed east.