“It’s not the saying goodbye that stings,” said another, “it’s going back home.”
“The silence is deafening.”
“You can’t escape the quiet.”
“You can’t replace the emptiness.”
“Your heart has been yanked out and now it only swings back and forth and back and forth by a razor-laced string.”
We often talked about his leaving, what it meant and how it would change things. We were very close as I was a single parent since he was an infant, and he was an only child. We had created our own little family as there as neither of us really had anyone else. We were parent and child and best friends. “I have to do this, Mom,” he said.
“I know,” I answered. And I did know. This was the only option.
The day finally came. He carefully closed the door to his room. We packed the car and drove to the Orient ferry, passing Briermere Farms on the North Fork and on to O’Mally’s for what would be our habitual ritual burger, which was close to the one at Magic’s Pub’s, but just better. We boarded the ferry, saw the Orient Light House in our rear view and soon theConnecticutshore was looming and we were on 95 North toBoston.
We made our way to the dorm, filled the big blue basket with all of his things and got on the elevator. I made his bed with the extra long sheets, Hildredth’s best, while he neatly folded his sweatshirt from Blue and Cream into the well-worn closet. When there was no longer anything to do, after all the boxes had been put in the trash and I had smoothed the bed clothes tight enough for one of his tennis balls to hit the ceiling, we sat silent on the two beds that faced one another and tried not to meet each other’s gaze. “Let’s go,” he finally said and we got up and stanchly made our way to the parking lot, to the car and to the last goodbye. The tears welled up in both our eyes. “Help me do this, Mom,” he whispered. I left with that ten-minute hug and empty blue basket in the parking lot, driving back to the Island, tearing up as I passed O’Mally’s, Love Lane and eventually hitting Route 104 back to Westhampton Beach. When I was home and opened the door there was just emptiness…razor laced emptiness, double laced emptiness, just as someone had said.
In November, I made a trip toBostonto hear the Boston University Symphonic Chorus perform, my son now a member of this chorus, still performing just like before. As I sat in Symphony Hall waiting for the performance to begin, I was immediately aware that this was not theQuogueElementary Schoolauditorium or even the Westhampton Beach High School Cafetorium. The rows of fold out chairs and stifling heat had been replaced by silent cool air and gold leaf marble sculptures. The Quogue Junior Theatre Troop and leads in the high school plays had been interchanged by Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” and white shirts and black pants by formal tuxedos.
The chorus sang, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Who goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him.”
I was feeling that this performance was different from the others; that time had indeed changed but was not ticking away. Things were different, yes, but time was not following a path that suddenly stopped. This was not the last performance. There would be so many more, in the course of our lives. We would share the first job, marriage, grandchildren, life’s disappointments and joys. It was all still there, all waiting, all beautiful. Our lives were mirrors of the seasons on theEast End; changes from season to season, but always a village Christmas tree lighting and another Thanksgiving with a fresh local organically grown turkey, and every week Dan’s Papers full of great things to do.
“And ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”