The way the sun came through the windows made it look like lattice, the shadows of the tree branches on the window sills. I thought about dropping mom at the airport, but really thought about it because I’d thought about drinking, how the sun came through the window in a kind of celebratory way, I’d kicked a habit for a month when last I saw her, and now that the month was up I could start again.
Mom and I got good at our goodbyes, good that we didn’t draw them out or make them harder than necessary. After dropping her off I changed the CD and went north to my job; it was good to have a place to go and distract myself. And as I drove I thought about what classic goodbyes I could remember, there were only a few, and really, who wants to remember them?
You really can tell the difference with the light by the time you get to the end of January, it’s all about the fade. And maybe that’s what we react to most in the Pacific Northwest, is how fast it comes in November, how we forget the urgency and desperation of it like we’re suffering through the same recurring pain every year in a Greek myth kind of way.
Mom and I got good with the goodbyes because we acted like everything was normal and didn’t make a fuss. I dropped her at the curb, we hugged and waved, both of us looking back once, after I pulled away.
Of all the goodbyes I can remember there was one with her in Pennsylvania when John was still alive, when she really broke down. And I wondered, thinking back, if the goodbye was triggered by something else, some different thing that hadn’t found a place to express itself yet. And how symbols surround us in the smallest ways, why they curl up inside our actions and patterns, the habits that bring us comfort, the thought there’s at least one thing in this life we can predict or control. And even though we can’t, why we try.