Corey leaves on a business trip tomorrow. It’s his first trip of the new year and the kick-off to a busy travel season. Thanks to conferences and client visits, he’ll be gone roughly every other week between now and May. Unfortunately for me, most of those trips will be to warm destinations.
The night before he leaves is always extra wistful. All of a sudden, the beauty in our daily routine shines fresh, scrubbed bright by imminent separation. If you had looked in our windows tonight – and really, anyone can, since we don’t have coverings on our patio doors – you would have seen a family laughing over the baby’s reaction to homemade applesauce (apparently, it was sour), a little girl who has her daddy’s dark skin scold him for talking with his mouth full, a little boy scarf down his applesauce and mac-and-cheese and immediately ask to be excused, the better to escape the meatloaf and peas left on his plate.
It was normal, everyday stuff, but tonight, it was extra tender. Corey and I lingered over the dirty dishes and let the kids run around the living room longer than usual. It was late when we finally, reluctantly, began herding the masses upstairs toward bed.
I took the baby into the nursery, the baby who is unapologetic in her gleeful shrieks of “Da!”, and got out some pajamas from the back of the drawer, tomorrow being laundry day. These particular pajamas made the sense of melancholy grow deeper; they were a pair of Natalie’s footsies, retrieved from the bin of baby clothes only last week.
I held them up and inhaled with all my might. They smelled like baby Natalie, clean and warm and somehow musky, like our lives seven years ago when we were a family of three and living in San Diego.
I shook them out and motioned to Natalie and Connor. “Do you know who used to wear these?”
Natalie grinned and rolled her eye a little and said, "ME!"
Connor, who harbors a sentimental streak as wide as the Mississippi under his tousled masculinity, cocked his head and cooed, “Ahhhh, they are so cute!”
Ignoring the pilled fleece and worn cuffs, I replied, “They are cute, aren’t they?” I buried my nose again and took another deep breath. The air around me felt heavy with nostalgia.
I was having a moment.
“And look what’s on them,” I squinted, “little bear fairies.”
“What,” said Corey, who was playing with the baby on the changing table, “is that like a bunch of naked gay guys?”
The moment was over.
Thankfully, the lifetime goes on.
Kelly also blogs at Love Well.