“I was so happy to see your Mom at Alex’s concert the other day. Saw she’s using a cane now, so’s mine. She’s been falling a lot – I’ve had to go over and help her off the floor more times than I care to count. She needs a second total knee replacement now; she told me that your mom does, too. Sucks watching our parents get older, doesn’t it? Fuck, it sucks getting older – period.”
“You’ve been on your own Medical Mystery Tour – forgot to tell you: I finally had that MRI. I guess I got tired of people making the whole, “a migraine for a month is called a ‘brain tumor'” joke and figured that if I was actually dying, I should probably be aware – I’d have to plan my own funeral, after all. The test wasn’t too bad, but it was the first time I’d had to sign one of those “emergency contact” forms. I no longer had anyone to list and it felt weird. I’d actually started to fill out your information when it dawned on me – you’re no longer my person. You lose people in small ways for a long time, I guess.”
“Got the results back the other day – “bright spots and structural changes consistent with chronic migraines.” Beats the balls a brain tumor – guess Mimi and I have more in common than erms, well, everything. She’d probably agree that the only time you want to hear the term “bright spot” is when you’re talking about diamonds, not your brain – she’s my daughter, after all. The neuro seems unperturbed by this – the bright spots, not the diamonds; never talked to him about those – so I guess it’s just one of those things that happens. Still kinda scary. I try not to think on it.”
“Hope work is going great for you; I know how you love your job. My job’s going well – just got a promotion. So weird to think that all of those years ago when you told me I should “start a blog,” it would change my life. Not only did I start spewing verbal diarrhea across the Internet on Mommy Wants Vodka, I founded Band Back Together; landed a job as a writer in downtown Chicago. Thanks for the suggestion – never really did think it’d go anywhere. It’s funny – I regularly take the very same train you’d tried to unsuccessfully catch all those years. Reminds me of college: I still bitch about the “lifers” and commuters on the train – they’re still the same pricks I remember. Never did love the bustle of the city like you did, but it fills my days, and that’s what matters.”
“Glad to see you’re still using the “Good Dog” bowls I bought for the cats years ago, remember how I’d laughed at my cleverness? Miss those days. Happens, I s’pose. That reminds me, the wisteria needs a good pruning. Sorry to see that the trellis I’d put up didn’t withstand the harsh winters a bit better. It was a good experiment. Saw that you’ve got an old wasp nest on the porch, right by the nickel address sign I’d proudly picked out – the kids are so scared of bees, you may want to take care of that before it’s a problem. I can do it if you want – wait, that’d be weird. Forget I offered. The flower beds I’d planted in the front are overgrown with weeds – I’ll teach the kids how to take care of them. Bet they love the magnolia I’d planted to replace those overgrown horrifying bushes I ripped out when I realized they made us look like those creepy people who probably made lamps out of the boobs of dead hookers. Always wanted a magnolia bush. Never did get to see it bloom.”
“Feels so weird to be in an apartment after living in a home for so long. Forgotten how transient apartment living makes life feel. Always did like the idea of putting down roots somewhere – I know it wasn’t your style, but it was – still is – mine. I’ll plant another magnolia, more roses, have another orchid collection. Someday.”
“Did I tell you? I’m Marching for Babies again this year! Still looking for more people to join our team – so far it’s a couple of my work buddies. Remember the last time we did it? Mimi was barely walking, Alex was too young to go, and Ben, well, it was a long hike for him. Just a few of us walked right along the river. I remember happily pointing out my (old) apartment complex to you. Sure never thought I’d move back there. Man, that feels a lifetime ago. This year, I’m walking along the Lakefront downtown – both Alex and Mimi want to walk, but I’m torn. One hand says, Mimi is one of the reasons I walk for babies, the other reminds me that, 3 miles is particularly long for a five-year old, even if she is a miracle. Hm. Yeah. Maybe I’ll get a stroller.”
“Saw the new car in the driveway, glad you got that CR-V off your hands. I know it was a good idea to get it at the time, but it turned out to be an albatross of a thing. Alex told me that your parents got it for you – that’s really nice of them. I’m sure the new car is more gas efficient – total plus. You must be so happy about that.”
But I don’t say any of these things.
My mouth’ll form the words, but the words won’t come out.
What tumbles out is, “See you later,” as I bundle the kids out the door I once tripped through spilling my diet Coke down the hallway as laughter rang freely. I hear you say, “Yeah, whatever. She’s here. She’s just taking them for a couple hours.” Tears I can’t explain sting my eyes as I walk out the door of the house I once called home.