It began with me sleeping overnight at my grandparents’ house. They lived close by, so it didn’t feel like being away, or not very far away. The next step was sleeping overnight at my best friend’s. Everything about Bonnie’s house was different: late bedtime, unlimited candy, noisy furnace.
Then there was summer camp which was two weeks of sleeping on a metal bunk in a cabin with eleven other girls. I was homesick, but I also had a glimpse of freedom. And when I left for college, I was finally living away from home—with all the new people and experiences and choices.
After graduation, I took a job on the East Coast, then moved to the West Coast. But whenever I was lonely, I could go home to Mom and Dad. Even after I was married, we went “home for the holidays” to my parents’ house.
They were always there until suddenly they were gone, my mother dying when I was 31 and my father ten years later. Looking back, I see how I was always preparing to leave my parents, never preparing to have them leave me.
If they were here, they’d probably say, “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
But they’re gone.