I stood in her kitchen. The not-her-kitchen-any-more, kitchen. The one she never stood in cooking dinner and correcting homework. In the room she didn't meal plan or pack bento box lunches. She didn't pull banana bread from the oven or stir pots of marshmallows to make rice crispy treats. And yet, somehow, even after she moved out it remains her kitchen.
When she came into the house a few minutes behind me, she came with the smell of campfire and 2 ratty looking young girls. They met with the 2 young ladies I had brought with me; 2 teens dressed to fly off to gymnastics camp.
My campers in search of a camera to stash like squirrels into organized roller bags. Her campers in search of cleaner clothes.
We were each only passing through. Meeting like the last high tide and the last dry sand in the not-her-kitchen-any-more kitchen. Sometimes timing is everything.
She made herself a cup of coffee in the not-her-kitchen-any-more. It looked so familiar because it was something I have done. A long time ago I had a never-was-my-kitchen in my ex husband's new house up on the hill. It had all my dishes, my pots & pans, and my tins but it wasn't mine.
On his weeks to have the kids I would go to his house, make myself a cup of coffee while the kids got ready for school then I would drive them.
She asked me what I was thinking and I told her that the house still has the feeling of a mother. I said, even as flighty as you are as a mom- it still feels like a woman lives here.
I thought of the next woman who will come to stand in her place and wondered if she will see it too.
Really? She questioned me looking around the counters for the evidence of what I was saying. Looking for things she might have accidently left behind. Looking for forgotten scraps of motherhood.
But I don't think she could see what I see.
Women, especial mothers, we run like rivers. We all come from the same blueness but we each take our own paths.
We twist, we converge, we break apart, some run dry, and some over flow their banks. We carry life. And death. We cut through mountains. We get trapped in cities and go underground. We get facelifts. We get polluted. We get rescued. We get forgotten. We get protected. We get angry. We come right in the nick of time. We get weepy and we throw ourselves over cliffs. We gather our strengths together behind dams. We get called beautiful. We create waves. We grow shallow. We get deep. We run fast. We sink. We rise. We give birth. And we die. We disappear into the sand and into the ocean.
We are not forever but our impact, for better or worse, can be lasting.
Sitting together in the kitchen I didn't have time for coffee or for the antics of the cat carrying around a dead bird- but I lingered with her. For a little bit. It is something I have had to learn to do. It is not in my nature to be still.
Then when I knew it was time I took my 2 girls with me (one of which actually belongs to her) and we left.
At the airport I was the only mom who cried. My daughter looked back from the security line and seemed surprised. I think it surprised the other moms too. But it shouldn't.
If I am a river, each time she grows and walks away the channel slipping towards the estuary grows wider and clearer. From here I can see the blue of the ocean. I can see where her own river begins.