gratitude-a-thon day 217: he’s gone, but he’s there

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This is before we left for the airport. I laid on the couch reading. Look at my eyes, the flu thing was already starting to settle in. And look at Riley! He cuddled up to me, because I think he sensed my uneasiness.

I have been thinking about Jake leaving for college for like three years. I often try to prepare for stuff in advance so it doesn’t hit me upside the head and put me into an emotional coma like thing. So, it’s odd to be square in the middle of what I have been dreading. He left on Saturday with enough clothing to move to Barcelona for ten years, a hair cut, and all of our love. We left him in the check-in line at Logan, because he wanted us to “just go”, probably so that I didn’t put on some show that might require law enforcement. When we did walk away, I felt sick. Literally like I’d come down with some horrible flu. I felt weak and nauseas and achey. Ally and I sobbed silently, behind sunglasses, while Peter chattered. We got into the car and Peter began to drive and then pulled awkwardly and quite fast into a bunch of other cars, with me yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” His answer was a simple, “I don’t want to drive while I’m crying.”

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Peter and Jake in line at baggage check-in. Not pictured: Ally and I hiding behind sunglasses, Niagara Falls coming from our eyes.

We arrived home and barely thought I would make the stairs, because I felt so weak. Ally asked Peter to go for a burrito. They left and I came inside, clutched the dog and wailed like an Italian widow (one of the old ones who really knows how to belt it out). Riley looked puzzled, but concerned. There is nothing quite like a friend who has fur when you’re sad. I dropped into bed and slept, certain I had come down with Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Ebola.

My friends called and demanded we go out for drinks and dinner to my favorite restaurant. I didn’t want to. But I relented and they picked us up in their old Scout convertible without seat belts and I let the air sink into my skin. Sam the bartender, an Italian Margarita, an order of Bolognese and things seemed somehow better. I read when I got home, watched Project Runway (I know Kate is talented, but she’s so annoying, isn’t she?) and heard Ally having another sob fest with Peter. I tried to soothe her, tell her it was ok, but of course she had not had an Italian Margarita to give her a false sense of security.

He called at 1 p.m. to tell us he’d arrived safely! Just like when Jake would wake us in the night when he was a baby, Peter fell back to sleep in five miliseconds, while I tossed and turned wondering how Jake could condense his 19 suitcases to make the next leg of his trip easier. But score, he was there and he was safe.

Yesterday, Ally and I decided the only way to deal with such a loss was to shop. I gave myself free reign to buy anything I wanted, but I bought nothing more than a salad. When I can’t shop, you know I’m not myself. Ally was not, unfortunately affected. I felt disoriented, but Ally and I decided to just break it down, and talk about how he would be home in just three months.

He called in the late afternoon to report on his first day (he was there a day before the group, so he was alone). He did some exploring and sounded excited, but told us he felt so weird. We assured him that was normal and he’d probably feel better when the group arrived the next day. But all in all, he was fine. He was just fine. And basically, I was just fine, too. We’d all be fine. And Jake would come back with stories to tell. This is how life is supposed to be. You teach them to fly. And when they do, you’re sad. But I see the beauty too. I’ll try to focus on that today.