Among the books on my night table is Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell. It's a generous book, exquisite in many parts.
A good book is a good thing. I've been having a rough time emotionally the past week, with sudden, uncharacteristic periods of teariness and anger. I haven't understood why: my brain won't shut up long enough to find out. I realize I could use a few days of solitude, a block of quiet in which to think and write and pray and be. But that's only happened once in 16.5 years of being a parent, so I know I must seek out the peaceful pockets of my heart, and find rest there.
Last night after Eldest was successfully sent back to college and Big Guy was returned to his residence and Snuggler's frantic tummy was calmed, after I'd grappled with how to deal with the continued evasion of Big Guy's residence about his missing medication, after I'd talked to Andrew about taxes and college financial aid, after deciding I was too tired to pick up the living room, I went to bed to read for a while.
I was near the end of Long Way Home, where Caldwell writes piercingly about life after her best friend dies. Then she quotes a poem by Pablo Neruda:
Absence is a house so vastSuddenly I was sobbing. I understood: what is present in my life is absence. The absence of Big Guy, of Eldest, of other things I haven't written about here. All summer and fall and winter I have been working like mad, bucking others up, keeping the ship movingforward and picking up the pieces by sheer force of will. I have taken the long way home to grief.
that inside you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures on the air
At least I am home. At least I know.