While my husband and our second son gallivant around town, I retreat to a quiet table on a floating dock.
I order a glass of Chardonnay and coconut shrimp and set to scribbling notes to myself on a piece of scrap paper procured at the desk of the marina.
The sun is high above my umbrella, the day is crystal clear, and the mountain ranges across the great expanse of Lake Champlain are a sea of waves unto themselves.
This is perfect therapy for saying goodbye to a son; better than all those last minute searches at Wal-mart and Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond with the throngs of other parents of college freshmen.
I decide that before we leave Burlington–and our first born, we will take the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory tour.
A thin, blue dragonfly lands on my table and reminds me of my calling. I fold the piece of paper once, and then again, so that there are 4 boxes into which I can, somewhat privately, collect my emerging thoughts.
When I have filled an entire side of the sheet, I unfold it and flip it to the opposite side, folding it up once more. I ask the waitress for a glass of water. I scoop out some of the ice and drop it into my wine. I am feeling almost buoyant.
And then I hear: “I think we should move here, Dad.”
I look up to see a boy about the age of my second son, 13, standing beside his father who has stepped up to the bar. I recognize the longing in the boy’s voice. I’ve heard in my husband’s voice today as he raves about the Champlain Valley, as if to say the same: “Let’s move here.”
I can’t hear the father’s response, but I sense it in the reflection of his wife’s face as she approaches them. She is beautiful, but sad, hollowed even. She smiles wistfully at her husband and brushes her hand against his cheek while he leans over to kiss his tall son on the forehead. From behind, a small girl with long brown curls wraps her arms around her father’s waist and rests her head against his back.
I wipe tears from my folded paper as this family limps away.