I get along without her. Her absence is not filled, its center deep, but things spill in. Time with her sister, clamoring and very much still here. Time with my husband! Myself, without her. Who am I then, if not hers? She made me a mother. She is the one I learn on. Her younger sister’s worries do not worry me, so much. This second one is not a mystery. I feel trained.
My starter child is away for three weeks, leaving a phantom limb. I get along without her.
I dream of not being needed. A one floor apartment all to myself, no one’s clothes on the floor but my own. My husband comes for dates, then leaves behind only his warmth and a story that makes me laugh. The children do not drop in; we meet for lunch and shopping. A delicious loneliness.
I made a family to ward off loneliness. I suffered from it like a disease, nearly crippled by it, living among millions in New York in my 20’s. My closest friends lived in faraway countries and different states. I feel the danger of flirting with loneliness.
The one still home leans into me, asks to play cards, paint my nails, go to a swimming hole, sleep in my bed. I remind myself to take her in. She is more delicious than loneliness, her skin smelling of dirt and sun, her hair blonde and gritty. She, too, will leave me someday, they both will leave me. For good. I nurse the ache of missing one; I rest my lips on the head of the other. I get along, with them.