We picked up Emily from the NYSSSA summer art program in Fredonia yesterday (she was gone a month). We drove the entire day (and into the night) because she really wanted to come home. We were originally going to stay one more night and maybe swing past Niagara Falls, but Emily missed her room and the cats (Roo was with us) and having actual privacy.
It is so good to have her back.
Without Emily here, I had a lot of extra time – especially in the evenings and on weekends. It was easy to fall into a funk – the loneliness, the quiet of the house, and the fact that I work from home all threatened to throw me into an enormous existential crisis. It’s like I could actually FEEL the world pause as I shifted from one stage of my life and into another.
In an effort to avoid becoming overwhelmed by this, I did what anyone would do. I suggested to Jim that we finally start watching Game of Thrones in the evenings. We’re up to season five…
I also began a concerted effort to rid the house of clutter, going so far as to purchase the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” It’s been a welcome distraction –going through every room (every drawer, bin, closet, and corner)–and throwing or giving things away. I’m nowhere near done, but the rooms are beginning to open up one by one as the ratio of space overtakes the ratio of stuff. It’s kind of addictive, actually.
Sometimes I worry that the empty rooms will be even more overwhelming than the clutter, reminding me that my life is much emptier than it once was when we were a young, whole family. But I’m noticing something surprising – the emptier rooms are calming. It’s like letting go of the things that don’t have meaning (and even some that do having meaning) is helping me release the expectations I had for my life and my children and this family. Making room in my house is helping me make room in my mind for something new. I don’t know what that is yet, but it kind of feels hopeful. I think Ana would’ve approved.
So, back to Emily. She didn’t want to stay one more day in Fredonia and I could hardly blame her. So we checked out of the hotel at 3 p.m. and hit the road. It took us almost eight hours to get home . We listened to Pink Floyd (with a little Zeppelin mixed in) – on full blast – the entire time. Emily and Jim explained what a “tasty” guitar sound was and we all laughed at how little I know about music. Well, I might not know much, but I discovered I love The Rain Song and Echoes.
We drove in and out of storms beneath an absolutely breathtaking sky. We saw a rainbow. Of course we did. I felt aware of our togetherness as a family in a way I don’t think I would’ve if we hadn’t lost Ana. In fact, we saw a rainbow twice on our short trip. It felt like Ana was so very close.
We got home at about 11:00 p.m. Today was a “found” day, since we were supposed to be on the road home but instead we got to sleep in our own beds and wake up with all three of us under the same roof for the first time in a month. Emily and I spent a few hours cleaning out her studio and uncluttering that space so she can work on some new paintings. Now that she’s back, it feels like my life is unpaused again. She did really well at NYSSSA and made two good friends. I’m proud of her.
I’m also proud of myself for letting her go for so long. I do worry about clinging too tightly to her in Ana’s absence. But now I know that I have the ability to let her grow and become independent and maybe I even have the strength to look forward to the next phase of my life. I think Ana would approve.