efore summer arrived, a schedule was hatched that has Seth with us for August (and a lot of June) but none of July. This was agreed to by all, and though I knew it might prove challenging at times for everyone concerned, it seemed worth the effort to give it a go.
As we wind down--or is it up?--to his return on Sunday, fresh from jazz band camp at EWU, I am pleased to say it's been doable. Not better than that, but not worse either.
This poem started in my brain quite a long time ago, and has been on "paper" for a few months now, in some form or other. Weeks of time with Seth at his dad's is the way we've lived for about nine years. Not what I would have wished for, ever, for any of us, but the unfortunate cost of an irreparable fracture. I could wax on about the benefits outweighing the costs (they do) and how we've all gotten so good at managing the transition (we do better some weeks than others), but the simple fact is that it just is.
For me, this poem is a marker, something tangible to to stick in the ground of my memory to say, "I was here, this was real, it matters." Not a ploy for sympathy (please, no!), not a banner to wave over the difficulties of life (missing a child at some point is fairly universal, after all), but a note to myself--and you now too--that progress is possible and reframing even the most minute details can cast a situation into a new, more constructive light.
Reminders of his absence litter
the house. I will stretch moments across days, tracing
the unintended scavenger hunt--a lone
sock, an iPod, a book by the bathtub,
the colorful cereal bowls where apple slices and grapes
once piled. In no hurry to tidy
the remains, I take my time returning
the books to their shelves, bowls
to the sink, sock to the laundry hamper.
He will return, and by then, each sock,
each crumb of breakfast, each pencil
and scribbled note will have found a home
in a drawer or proper place of keeping,
only to be undone by his returning.
There was a time, I would wander
the house a bit bereft, held hostage
by the sway of weeks, the shift, the absence.
Barren for days, then full with his presence;
the fullness never enough, always a craving, still.
Lately, miraculously, I am able to see
these small celebrations of him,
and be comforted; by handwriting,
socks, the wet towel on the bedroom floor,
Even as I mumble and shake my head,
I smile, anticipating the undoing
that his arrival home brings.