710 Miles Down: Woodbridge,VA.  October 13, 2006

I wrote this in 2006 when my mom and I were driving from Florida to Maine to move her, after my father’s death a year before. They had moved to Florida from Maine because my dad longed for warmer weather. My mother was never a fan. She’s Norwegian and from Wisconsin. She never complained about snow. She never mind shoveling. My dad on the other hand… 

As soon as he passed, my mother knew she had to return to her soul home. Maine. Even though it meant leaving me and my two small kids in Florida…not sure what was going to happen next.

It’s suspended. 

Time. I am 26, 27, or 28 years old again for a moment and living in an apartment and Virginia, with a friend I have managed to keep most of my adult life. 
I shake my head. I am now 42. She is 43. I am in her house with her husband and her daughter. It’s a second pit stop with my mother and her small white dog, on our way to Maine.

And it is familiar. Yet no longer home. 

Chilly, fresh, wonderful air. I take deep, deep, breaths and gaze over her lawn. There are Willow trees, birch trees, colored leaves, Cardinals, finches, Blue Jays, and grey squirrels. Four seasons are in this world. It’s just not normal in Florida. There the four seasons are homoginized and mixed just like the people. Land is forced into being liveable. 

I want my 79 years young mother to live her next 10 years, not just survive. She is going home I know. But leaving me for an indefinite time. 

I feel the loss, the sadness.  But my grief is suspended over the next four or five days. It’s as if I am not allowed to let it go, or allowed to fully feel it, for fear it will make me spontaneously combust

How will I live with her 1400 miles away? How will I fill the void she is creating?

She followed me to Florida for my dad.

She is going home to Maine for herself.

It’s all the right way.

October 15, 2006.

We are in Maine.

Driving the roads I drove at 29, 30, 31, 32 to 37. Even at 28, 27,  26, 25…

The world ages, I age. 

The world changes, I change. 

Familiar, surreal. I don’t want to leave. This truly feels the most like home. But is that because she’s here?

The four seasons mark the passage of time. When they are essentially absent, my life loses order and time almost seems to cease to exist. I look at my mother across a card table, eating a lobster roll.  Except in faces. Yes. Faces. 

The moving truck won’t back here for three more days. We are sleeping on air mattresses. A lone ficus is in the corner of the apartment needing attention. There are white plastic lawn chairs in the living room. But my brother lives nearby and I will pass him the torch of our mother. I won’t be here to see familiar childhood things find their place and her new space. I won’t be here to see the first snow.  That change of seasons. My eyes well.

I stay strong because I need to, and I have to “let her go”. I stay strong because when I do cry, I am afraid I won’t stop. I say strong, and do do do all day to make sure she is as settled as she can be before I…go.

Silence. Coldwater. This place has more of a feeling of permanence to it, of always having been there, of always being here in the future.
Florida feels temporary.

How to say goodbye when I don’t know my return date?


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