And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
As I took the dogs out for their final run on a recent evening, I glanced back at the house and savored the vision of all the lights ablaze, both upstairs and down, with much bustling going on inside. I knew that it would be the last time I’d enjoy this particular scene for many months, and a lump came to my throat as I stood there watching. For you see, after a month-long visit by Shannon and Kat, they have now headed back north to New York.
It’s been so much fun to have them here, fun to have company during the day, fun to collaborate on dinners… to shop, to celebrate birthdays, to play Scrabble, Life and do jigsaw puzzles, to dine out and even to do ordinary things like go to the grocery store together.
Now the house is still; there’s a sadness in the air that has replaced the laughter and the animated conversations that once filled these rooms. Tonight when I go outside and look back, the house will be dark. Not even Joel is here; he’s gone up to Alaska for a week of fishing!
I’m accustomed to being alone during the day… well, except for the menagerie, but evenings can be long when nobody is around. I’ve made some dates with girlfriends and family members this week, so that will help, but even so, the house will be empty of people when I return.
Earlier this week, we watched home videos of Shannon growing up. Mistake #1. Doing so probably made the pain of separation worse! How quickly the years have flown by… that precious three year old on the screen is now eighteen years older, totally grown up and very competent.
Also this week, I rode my bicycle by the house we lived in when Shannon was six through ten years old. Mistake #2. As I passed by, my mind went back in time to those years, and I could just visualize our eight year old playing on the playground across the street and riding HER bike around the circle, swimming in the lake and playing with her beloved KC (Kitty Cat). And now, that young girl is but a child of air…
I’ve had people say how envious they are of my week of solitude, and I can understand their sentiments. Many moms would LOVE a week of ‘freedom’ from family responsibilities. If Shannon were returning in a week, then I would feel very differently, but it will be four months until I see her again, and she probably won’t be back home until Christmas! That’s an awfully long time, which is why I’m so sad today.
Come to think about it, she may NEVER be back for such an extended length of time as we enjoyed this month. Graduation is next spring, and after that, who knows where life will take her?
I know, I know, I know. This is the way it should be… children do have a way of growing up and moving out to begin their own lives. Just give me a few days to clear the ghosts of days gone by out of my head, and I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself. I’ll establish my usual daily routine again and focus on my big work project without feeling like I’m neglecting anyone.
And I’ll eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it, go to bed when I want to and get up when I feel like it! A mother’s dream vacation… Say, this is sounding promising! I do believe I feel better already. I think I’ll go take a look in the fridge to see what looks good….to ME. Leftovers, anyone?