Day One

I woke up this morning lying on my stomach, my face buried into my pillow. My fingers instinctively curled around my phone, which I had kept right next to me during the night.

Then I remembered.

I lifted my head and peered through my messy hair at the too-bright screen.

A single message.

"Made it."

I sighed, and dropped my head back down. Wyatt stirred next to me (he had no problem filling his dad's place on the far side of the king-sized bed), then settled in again to his gentle breathing.

This was it. William was officially in New York. This was Day One of the Great Adventure.

Day One without my Bill.

Monday had been exhausting. Tuesday had been tricky. Wednesday, I awoke with a strong calm. An ability to somehow set to the side my physical exhaustion, my tumult of emotions, my fears, worries, even my excitements. I was a placid sea.

Even though the temple turned out to be closed for maintenance (goodbye, plan to begin this journey strong), the restaurant we tried to take the kids to for lunch didn't open until four (so long, final outing as our entire little family), and the hours ticked by too fast until we would be dropping my best friend off at the airport with a resounding note of finality and I would bring the kids back home without him - it had been a good day. We finished every needful thing without a feeling of panic, and spent some time together as a family.

Everything else could be left.
Everything else could be handled, later.
Everything else, I could take care of. Leave the mess. Leave the bills. Leave the errands and the rest of the packing and every clinging care. That was for tomorrow, and I wanted Today.

Last minute, we decided to see if anyone wanted to join us for one last dinner together. As the hours ticked closer and closer to final boarding, I felt my calm begin to crumble. I knew the finality of our last meal together with Bill would be difficult for me, and I was hoping for a distraction. To focus on the celebration of the opportunity, and not the grief of his leaving. I wanted to laugh.

It didn't work.

The restaurant was loud, the table was long and we were on the far end of it. Everyone was having their own conversations, except for my Angel Mother who was very much focused on me, and kept reminding me that she and my dad would be there to help me 100% of the way. This was so comforting and touching, though, that it made me want to cry more. And then there were my kids. Surrounding me on all sides. As I cut their meat or handed them a new fork or caught their hand before they smeared sauce somewhere permanent - I would begin to feel tender about how they were going to have to spend a month without their favorite person, too - and I'd have to take deep breaths and divert my mind, again. I wasn't going to cry, today. Today, I would show Bill that I could be the strong woman he could leave behind.

I was fine.

We were fine.

But then, as dinner wound down and my denial wound up, Bill looked at me with too much knowing, and said, "You ready?"

I knew he wasn't really asking me if I was ready to leave the restaurant. I looked at him and nodded emphatically. But then the sting found my eyes. They started to well. I felt my face crumple, and my my emphatic nods turned into furtive shakes of my head.

Ready? How could I be ready to drop my husband off at the airport with a "well, we'll see you sometime in the next month or two! Maybe!".

I buried my weeping face into Henry's back and held him close on my lap. I was ready - we were all ready for this - but I would never be ready. And that was okay.

Not for the first time through this, I thought of my pioneer ancestors. The women whose blood I share, standing as I stood, watching their husbands walk off toward the failing sun, not knowing when their journeys would bring them together again; drying their eyes on their sleeve, and getting to work.


Kristen said...

Oh, that "face crumple" thing when you are just trying to hold it together and it doesn't quite work... that's the worst.

Once Eric was gone for sales for 6 weeks - not easy. But you are a strong mama and you can do this!

And you write beautifully, by the way. I'm always super excited when I see you have a new post because I just love the way you write.

Jenn said...

I'm so sad for you. And so happy. When you first said you were moving to New York my first thought was "Awe, I'm going to miss her" . . . then I remembered I only know you through your blog, ha ha.
I think I harbor a secret desire that everyone will move back to Black Horse Run.
I'm always excited to see a new post, too. You have a way with words.