After eighteen years

I spent the morning
Sitting in your chair
Looking at your bookcase
With all the books arranged higgledly-piggeldy
Covered in dust.

I pulled out the bookcase and Hoovered up behind it
Years of dust, fluff, hairclips and beads
A little heart-shaped box with gold and orange shapes all over it.

I put your Charlaine Harris series
Into the empty space I’d made
I wasn’t too keen on you reading those
But now the array of black
With red-lipped woman
Is what I have.

I empty the half-full jar of pesto
That sits in the door of the fridge
I wash it out
And put it in the recycling bin

Nobody to eat it now
Or the breaded fish fillets
In the freezer.
Nobody will eat those
Or the single chicken fillet
Likewise breaded.
Will they keep till December
Or shall I throw them out?

We won’t have to be quiet
In the mornings now
When we get up at 6
And make the tea.
We can even switch on
The dishwasher before we leave the house
In the morning.
That’s looking on the bright side.

The little girl across the road
Scoots along
Her mother walking beside her
The little girl chats
Lost in her fantasy
Telling her mother all the details
Of what’s in her mind.
The mother is half-listening
The other half
Watching to make sure
The girl does not fall off.

You said I could watch your West Wings
and your series 2 of House.
You've left them for me to watch
You said.

You’ve taken your space cup from
The NASA canteen.
You’ve taken your coats
So I have somewhere
To hang mine now.
That’s great.

14 thoughts on “After eighteen years

  1. Maxine, you should be writing lyrics for country and western songs. Being a parent is the most difficult task in the world.
    I know how you feel because however mature our children get we always think of them as when they were helpless little toddlers.
    Hope you are feeling brighter.

  2. This is beautiful, Maxine. I take it your lovely first-born has headed to university. Where is she going? And I do remember, vividly, the day my baby flew the nest. The thing is, they fly back. Mine is back in the same city now, going to the u. where I teach, and working at a resto in our neighborhood on weekends. Indeed, as I type this, the gorgeous girl is snoozing in the room above my head.
    Life wags on, Maxine, and there’s a lot of joy with your girl yet to come!

  3. Sums everything up perfectly, Maxine! The knowing and wanting them to go – and yet secretly and stupidly wanting to block up the front door.
    It passes, but it’s hard. I hope you feel better soon.

  4. My eldest flew in and flew out again last week – here for just 6 days. She left home 8 years ago – feels just like yesterday. Flying glimpses is what we get now, but somehow we are closer. Thinking of you Maxine. You’ve just got to cling to the idea that they’ve taken your value system with them and they’ll be the person they’ve always been. Remember you were 18 once! 🙂

  5. Thank you all so much for your kind and lovely comments (wipes tears from eyes). I hope to resume what passes for normal service round here soon.

  6. I’ve just seen this post, Maxine – beautifully expressed. I was in a similar place yesterday as I also took my eldest son off to university this weekend. The hardest thing is that it’s only recently that I’ve really begun to think of him more as a friend than a son, and I’m already missing the friendship. But then I recall how much I enjoyed university, so it’s a pleasure to think of him having (I hope) a similar experience. Mind you, I haven’t quite plucked up the courage to tackle his room yet…I have a feeling that what lurks behind his bookshelves might be more challenging than ‘dust, fluff, hairclips and beads’… Anyway, best wishes to you both.

  7. Beautifully written, Maxine. Reading this, I now know how my mother must have felt when I left home for the first time at 18 – and it’s made me want to cry.

  8. Thanks, again, all. I’m still rather wobbly – all your comments and kind sympathy or empathy really help. I do so appreciate it (them).

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