a knock at the door

Last night we were eating our Valentine dinner—little filet steaks, roasted asparagus, spinach salad—when I remembered something I’d read earlier that day, maybe in Bonnie Burnard’s Suddenly, maybe somewhere online. What if there was a knock at the door and you found your children there, not as the adults they are, with their wide and busy lives, but as the children they were, available to you again for a couple of hours, an afternoon? What if. Maybe it was the candlelight, maybe the two glasses of excellent Côtes du Rhône (Gabriel Meffre’s Plan de Dieu), but I began to cry. It had snowed all day. The day before too. And it’s snowing as I write. Snowed in, on the edge of the world, and everything so far away. Most days I feel the privilege of my life. I have an excellent partner, we have wood in the woodshed, a durable roof over our heads, the pleasures of nice food and wine, our own work to do. So there’s nothing to cry about. But what I would have given last night to hear a knock at the door, to open it to see the faces of my children as they were 30 years ago, or longer, looking up in the porch light, wanting in. There was cake enough for all of us, the fire was warm, and what would we have said to one another as the snow swirled and settled on the boughs of the Douglas firs that have grown to great heights since we first looked out at them, a young family at our table.

12 thoughts on “a knock at the door”

  1. Yes–I had a brief no-touch visit with the grandkids yesterday. And remembered how much time I spent with the older ones when they were little. I felt like crying too, because I have missed a whole year with them, have lost touch with the older ones, and missed pretty much all of Emmas first year. No hugs, no kisses!

  2. You made me cry, Theresa, suddenly, surprised, as I sit in my silent house looking at the snow, with a fresh blizzard predicted for tonight. I feel incredibly lucky, like you, for my roof and fireplace and well-stocked pantry. Your piece hit me more about being able to go back and see my children again, my daughter’s wild tangle of hair and fierce pushback, my son’s crazy humour and ability to lose and break anything instantly … wait a minute, now I’m laughing. Maybe I’m glad they’re grownups and I’m old! Older. Sort of old. Youthful but aging. Wiser.

  3. Theresa, it’s February. I have to say that when older urban friends of mine talk wistfully about moving to the country, wanting peace and fresh air and a simpler life, I say, “I have one word for you: February.” In Ontario, anyway, where we’re still in the thick of winter with months to go and it’s hard to get out, brutally cold … But for you too, you have peace, fresh air, and a simpler life, but it’s February, your husband is in recovery, your new book will come out but not for a while, and your children are far-flung. I’m not surprised there are shadows, dear friend.

    1. In late afternoon, the sky was that pinky-gold that foreshadows spring. It’s interesting how the heart rises, as though to an occasion! Today, John’s recovery seems quite possible and for that, I am grateful. Thank you for your continued support, Beth.

  4. My children are still so young (8, 10, 12) and I like to think so am I. But I feel the years slipping away quickly and the changes in them coming fast and furious. My oldest is almost 13 and pretty much as tall as I am and I keep seeing glimpses of her as a toddler and my heart aches. Maybe it is my illness colouring everything (because how can it not) but I do try and hold on to each and every moment. I actually enjoyed having them around me for months in the Spring when everything was shut down. They are in school now though – their mental health demands it. 😉

    1. I think it’s the situation now — enforced seclusion — that has me yearning for the liveliness of those early years. I feel my privilege, of course, and relative ease during these difficult days but I miss seeing my family.

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