The crisp air hangs just outside my front door. At times, a sample seeps under the skirt to remind me that today… it is cold out there. It is not time to venture out with the dog. Not yet. But soon. The sun has risen and is promising to bring a little more warmth into the morning.
I am snuggled, once again, under the covers of my bed while the furnace attempts to create a comfortable climate for us. It is quiet, other than that. I hear a plane in the sky – far off in the distance. It is amazing how the sound can travel when the air is this cold. The branches of the maple tree outside my window sway gently. It has to be the breeze catching the promises of spring buds. Yes. That is what must be resisting the wind. There is a cloud on the far horizon, painted with several shades of grey. Snow? Please – no snow for a while.
I hear a thud. It must be the boys. They must be awake. I would have expected them to sleep late today after enjoying the last “sleep-over” of the Christmas season. They are, my Ben and David, two peas in a pod, best friends, mutual characters and admirers of all things geeky. And they carry it well. Magic, some kind of battling kingdom game, ASAP science shows… the periodic table of elements song.. you name it – they are into it. They laugh. They chide one another. They wrestle one another. Mostly – they love one another. It is funny to watch how the roles change every time Ben comes home and sees David slightly taller than when Ben left. David is going to be a tall, tall man. There is an on-going discussion about how tall he will grow and whether it will result in an over-taking of Ben.
Now, it would be remiss of me to speak about this relationship without including Katya. Poor Katya gets stuck in the middle often – literally and figuratively. As the middle child – there are challenges all on their own. As the girl who is sandwiched between two boys – well, do I need to fill in the lines? Puffer fish anyone? Yeah. That was last night in the back seat of the car when the boys blew themselves up to be bigger than life – more than squishing Katya into herself several times over. “Katya sandwiches” are similar. They both love her and share their own special bond with their sister. But – she is not into technology. She doesn’t play Mine Craft or Magic. She has her own set of friends and her “girl-stuff” that the boys just don’t relate to. At least, that’s how I see it.
When the chips are down – they are family. We had such a great Christmas Eve together. It was the highlight of this season. Dinner, followed by the great pyjama reveal. This is an occasion which always brings me much stress as my Mom always seemed to choose their pj’s well. Me? Not so much. Until recently, at least. This year, it would seem, I nailed it. So, snuggled in their pj’s, this year we all went to Katya’s apartment (in the basement) where we played some kind of interactive trivia game. This is when I decided it was okay to blame chemo for my lack of math skills and poor memory!
It is the last day of Christmas holidays today. That, in itself is sad. What makes today worse is that Ben flies out to Thunder Bay tonight to finish his school year. I hate this day. I get a pit in my stomach when I think of it. I have to remember that he will be home, once again, in another four months. This, remembering, is an active thing for me. I have to talk myself into thinking this way because it is more of my inclination to focus on his absence. I have to tuck that away and live while he is gone. Do all parents feel this way? Did mine?
I remember waving good-bye to my parents as I pulled out of our driveway on my way to university so many years ago. I cried. I was determined to not let them see me cry – I wanted them to think I was all grown up. What a mistake that kind of thinking was! I watched my Mom cry – and that was all it took to trigger a flood of tears from me. I hated leaving. A piece of me stayed with them. I know it did. I get that same ache in my arms today at the thought of Ben leaving as I did when I left my own parents. It reminds me of the discussion our family had last night about the phenomenon of entwined particle behaviour. Two entwined particles will behave the same way as each other when they are separated. I think that used to be called “Mother’s Intuition”. I don’t know much about the theory, but I do know that I believe it to be true, based on my own experiences of having my children leave. I experienced it with Katya going to Europe and I experience it every time Ben leaves for school. It is that empty feeling – disruption of the whole – which I find tough. An absence must be replaced by a presence.
So – I need to focus on filling the gap. What to do. Paint? Renovate? Write stories? Kevin bought me a new camera for Christmas. Maybe I’d better use it. I need to get into better physical condition so that I can enjoy life with more energy again. I’m getting there – I’m trying. The treadmill sits in the room in front of me – buried beneath piles of clothes. I guess I’ll have to unearth it to use it. But, not today.
Which brings me back to the day. It is time to get up and get dressed warmly to take the dog for a walk. The sun will have had time, by now, to provide a little buffer of warmth to the cold breeze. The branches of the trees are still swaying but don’t look quite as stiff as they did earlier. Although the furnace still chimes in – it does pause every once in a while. There is still no sign of life from the boys, other than the odd noise coming from some sort of game they are likely playing on the PS4 – or something.
It is time.
I know that getting up brings me closer to saying good-bye to Ben and so I linger. If I didn’t get up, would time stay still? I feel sometimes, when I look out my window, that I can freeze time by recording what I see and what I feel. While it is quiet, time does stand still. Like right now. Then – there it is – a creak. Movement. Tic-toc, time to get up and get the show on the road. The dog waits at the bottom of the stairs. There is laundry to do and groceries to buy. They call my name and beckon for me to begin this day.
Thank God for this day. Thank God for this holiday. Thank God for my family. Thank God for my life. It is time to get up. It is time to move forward. It is time to live. Like the tree, I will sway in the wind – entwined by nature and all of her beauty. Today, a piece of me will go with Ben to keep him safe, to keep him warm, to keep him comforted. It is time.