vendredi, mars 08, 2013

Emptiness speaks

It's the best bedroom in the house, the contractors said to us a few years ago when they built the upstairs extension.

Why don't you live up there?  Soon your daughter will be off to college, and her own life.

It wasn't solely the fact that I wanted her to have the big room, and some privacy.  I also preferred to be downstairs, near the living room and the deck and my son.  Our movie-watching, Downton Abbey and baseball rituals are important to me. He's still young enough to want his mom around -- at least in private.

Now the sun shines in the window, and the stars dance outside at night -- she is not there to see them.

Precious slumbers in the velvet chair near her door, and she does not walk by the chubby cat on her way down the stairs.

Jeans lie on the bed, her chest of drawers is brimming with junk she never sorted out, and a box of books and stuffed animals has been pushed to the room's corner.

But she never made the room her own -- it was if she was camping out, waiting that moment when she was free to go.

She's having a good time, said her dad. She's very social -- hanging out in West Chester coffee shops.  I've tried, but she doesn't want to come back to you.

I spoke to her today.  I'd lose all of my freedom if I came back to you, Mom, she commented. Dad lets me go out on school nights. He wants me to get a driver's license. I'm moving out to a friend's house anyhow when I graduate from high school.

Sometimes, when I go upstairs to shower, I turn on the heat.

Quickly it warms the rooms upstairs, cold and empty since she moved in with her father.

After I punch down the numbers on the thermostat, the emptiness rushes back in.

Wherever I am in the house, I can feel it -- the presence of an absence.

My daughter. My beloved child. My life.

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