Funny thing how emotions can sneak up on you unguarded.
Today I decided to put out the fake christmas trees and some of the other christmas decorations and so wandered back among the boxes and things in the downstairs storage room. The trees were at the very back. After retrieving two of the three christmas trees I looked into one of the boxes which needs sorting and there, on the top, was a picture of Ray. It was the facesheet for a sign language book from preschool. He was smiling and signing the letter "K". Blonde hair, chubby cheeks, shining eyes, shy smile...What happened to all the intervening years? All the birthday parties, school plays, open houses, science nights, chili dinners, fundraisers, PTA, boy scouts, sleep overs, pool parties, skating parties? And on and on, it went so fast.
I ran into Karen Hodges at Orr street studios during an Artrageous Friday in October. Our kids had been through pre-school at Stephens, then grade school (Lee), then on through to Senior High. Her youngest was, at one time, a friend of Ray's. We had spent July Fourths, birthdays and various school nights with each others families. Somewhere in Junior High the boys had stopped being such good friends and her children had gone on to greater accomplishment, i.e. swimming scholarships and pre-med at prestigious universities. Seeing the picture of Ray as a pre-schooler brought back a flood of memories and emotion and regret.
Why do we cry sometimes, at the drop of a hat, at nothing? Tyrranical middle-age hormones...?
Chuck's room stands empty. Has returned to an office. The curtains have been drawn back, the windows have been washed, the carpet febrezed. A table with pictures of the boys, a rolling chair, a lamp and various and sundry other office paraphernalia occupy the space. The oldest of the fake christmas trees leans precariously in a corner, eighteen years old. It was the first tree I bought after the divorce. That first christmas that we spent in a duplex. Old pictures show the Christmas tree small and in the corner. The kids standing in front of the tree with umbrellas they had each received for christmas.
And now. Chuck is at his own apartment. We went shopping for a futon yesterday. They were expensive, relatively speaking, "Oh honey, can you ask your dad to buy it?"..he looked at me sidelong and smiled, "Yeah, I'll have to put on my a--kissing shoes"..Later he texted me: "Dad bought me the futon.."
Now it is night, past sunset. Darkness settles in, blankets. A bright, upright christmas tree stands beyond the walkway, in the living room with multi-colored lights and downstairs near the back sliders stands another tree with white lights. In the kitchen Richa and Fatu talk, preparing dinner. Then Richa talks on the phone in the living room, a soothing blend of her Indian dialect and english. Dylan and Alayna were recently here. Ray is at his dad's house.
It is the season. I'll buy a real tree and it will go in the office, just through the french doors, fully decorated and away from the clawing cat (i.e. Ron). We'll put lights on the back deck and greenery and lights will be woven around the railing running from the first to the third floor.
The semester is nearly over and Randy will be moving out. In May, Richa will graduate and move out. Ray will graduate in June. But that is all so far ahead of us. Now it is the Christmas Season.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation--Whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1