It doesn’t seem real yet. We were both refusing to pack her suitcase. We sort of looked at things, tossed them in, took them out, and then walked away to do something better. Play some Uno. Watch a movie. Anything. We finally did it last night and had to enlist my mother’s master packing skills. Hard choices had to be made, and a package will be mailed.
It will be a quiet house now.
This part really stinks.
I can tell she is starting to doubt if she will return. I know the feeling. She leaves and we don’t know what the future holds.
But she knows she is loved. She knows she is wanted. She knows she is special.
And so she goes back to what she calls her “other life.” A life I do not know intimately like I know this one. A life where I do not have daily influence.
But isn’t that what love does? It lets go. Love isn’t a location. It’s not even an emotion. It’s a decision.
And I have decided to love this girl.
And she will go from me, just as many go from their families. And she will be missed.
But she will not be gone. Even now, she is giving me lists of instructions for things I need to do this week. People I need to contact, friends I should spend time with. Even as she goes, she is showing me her love.
And as I go forward with these things she is planning for me, all I can think is how to take pictures so that I can include her. I cannot let her go.
Her smell will linger in the air. Her mannerisms will be mirrored in my own. Her speech patterns will be assimilated into my rhythms.
When I say the word “better” I will think of her. I will hear echoes of way she says Little Man’s name. And if, when you thank me for something, I will tell you “you’re welcome” in the most sarcastic way possible. It’s not you. It’s her.
She thought saying “you’re welcome” was really dumb—why would you welcome someone after they say “Thank you”?? Stupid.
So we took to saying this all the time. Any time someone says “thank you” in a movie, we shout out “you’re welcome!” Rocky Horror style and then laugh. We even did it in the theatre while watching Hunger Games, and didn’t care who it bothered. We tell my family, cashiers, anyone we can “you’re welcome” with a stank face and then laugh.
And I will smile secret smiles when I say other words that only the two of us know the weight of. And when there is no appreciative chuckle in return my heart will hurt. And tears will gather in the corners of my eyes. And I will choke on the sharp pain.
But I also know that an ocean away, there is someone else who will be feeling the same thing. There are Russian words that she will not be able to say without hearing my voice in her mind.
And she will be homesick for a home she never knew she needed.
I cannot wait until I get to say “you’re welcome” to her again. I know I won’t need to, because she already knows she belongs.
But I will say it anyway.