The children, once grown, move in and out of the home like water.
Trickles, flash floods, sun showers, but rarely if ever the familiar steady flow, though evidence of it is everywhere, like seahorses found in the desert.
It all happened so fast.
Not the day-to-day, which seemed without beginning or end, but the vanishing which screams in silence from room to room…
Two placemats on the kitchen table.
The empty bedrooms (though we do our best to avoid them.)
The basement, from which I’ve just returned, with a hand on my heart and another on my belly, as if I’m about to be sick.
Like a morgue, the basement houses the remains of a life once embodied, together.
What to make of the favorite toys? The collections? The artwork? The photos?
I’m a Keeper, the consequence of a fractured childhood.
But now, the keeping weighs me down, leaves me sad, makes me wonder what I am to do with it all (and myself.)
To whom does it belong?
To whom do I?
My mother departed before her nest emptied, so it’s my husband’s mother whose gradual paring of the home I watched over time. I hadn’t known I’d been watching. Absorbing. Digesting. Over three decades. (Three decades!)
I had such hopes for thinning this autumn. But the weather, it kept changing. Inside and around me. The visits fast and furious and sometimes choppy and extended.
“Be like water,” wrote Minister Kendra Ford.
Run deep run clear
fill any space to its
respond to the moon, to gravity
change colors with the light
hold your temperature longer
than the surrounding air
take the coast by storm
go under ground
be the one thing people need, even when they’re fasting
eat boulders, quietly
be a universal solvent.
Am I water too?
I’m not sure which direction I’m flowing.
Should I swim or float or dive deep like I did each time I welcomed a new baby into my body and onto my breast and into our lives. “I feel like I’m living underwater,” I used to say to friends.
Perhaps I am a beached whale or a fossil of a whale like those discovered in the Green Mountains near Lake Champlain.
In part, it’s the way the leaving instantly aged me, signaled the impending Swan Song. Maybe that’s the secret of large families–perpetually immersed in the sea of new life–wave after wave–grandchildren arriving before the departure of the youngest.
And what of those without children? Do they experience a more seamless, fluid aging?
Must we stay young?
How do we know when. To hold on. To let go.