“Mommy, may I have some construction paper? And blank white paper, too? I'd like to make Daddy a birthday card. Like a book. With pages.” There is not much time between arriving home from school and suppertime. There is not much time between suppertime and bedtime. But, if I start a few days early, I think I can make my plan work out.
I am in limbo: neither 'here' nor 'there. It is neither morning, nor night. I am neither a self-sufficient adult, nor a dependent child. I celebrate having everything I ever hoped for and at the same time I strain while enduring tremendous loss. I have returned to my childhood home, but soon my family will scatter. Since 1978, I have my own precious husband, but right now there are 3000 miles between us. A new generation has begun with our new baby daughter, just as my parents' marriage crumbles apart. I am safe and secure, warm and well provided for here in Ontario because my own tiny log cabin in the woods in British Columbia is too isolated and cold for me to stay with the baby. I am surrounded by urban sprawl and the hurried pace of the city, while my husband is alone in the silent mountain wilderness.
The man standing beside my mother must be her husband.
Besides a quick hug for her and a 'Nice to meet you' to him, there is no time before the memorial service begins. I cannot juggle the conflicting thoughts and feelings that clamor for my attention as I see my 'step-father' for the first time face-to-face. But I block them all. I have to go into the chapel now.
The cedar chest Kevin built for me twenty years ago, when we lived in the cabin, is full to the brim with non-perishable food. Flour, sugar, milk powder, rice, pasta, beans, canned tomatoes, jam, tuna. It looks about like our pantry, but, it is in addition to the usual storage for six people for the winter
I don't want to be full of fear. Will the world come to an end because the computers aren't prepared for the 2000 date? Y2K. I have no way to evaluate the media hoopla that trumpets terrifying scenarios about the collapse of the western world.
He likes to go early. He parks our 4x4 pickup truck on the road parallel to the highway, facing the oncoming traffic. While he waits, he listens to the radio station, talks on his ham radio and blinks his headlights when he sees the bus coming around the bend. Avola is too small to have a bus station. You have to flag the bus to get on and ask the driver to pull over to let you off.
The Greyhound isn't expected until 2:30 and with the wintry weather, it could be hours late.
Nicholas is coming home! And he's bringing his sweetheart with him!
One summer day, when I answered a knock on the door, I stood face-to-face with a Catholic priest. His warm brown eyes, bearded smile, slow moving gestures and the book he reached to offer me, all signalled kindness, generosity, trust and welcome. But the black and white clerical collar felt like a barricade. I had never in my life spoken to a Catholic priest.
The red digital numbers read 4:52 as I reach to press the button to shut the alarm clock off before it blasts the annoying beep-beep-beep.
Now I have eight minutes to nestle in quietly cozy and plan my day. This is the very last time I will have to get up at 5:00am. What bliss it will be to sleep until Natures cycles awaken me. What bliss it will be when there is no need for a clock to pierce the winter darkness and force me from my warm cocoon.
The routine today will be like many others. Feed the fire. Prepare the meals. Wash the dishes. Look after the animals.
But tomorrow: Hurrah! A new chapter will begin. And, Dear Lord in Heaven, Please let it be a long one. Just the two of us, working towards our lifelong dream: 'Back-to-the-Land' in our little log house, on our riverside property, in the snowy mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
“Kevin, it's morning. Today is the day!” I gently nudge and quietly speak.