I am all alone in my house at 7:45 in the morning.
It is very, very still.
Not winter yet, so not even any fan noise from the pellet stove.
I'm listening to the radio on the computer, and drinking my coffee (very good coffee, by the way - the husband has developed a regular weekly trip to the coffee roasters in Hood River who know him now, and save him a pound from the freshest darkest roasts each week).
Although the bearded young giant is usually incommunicado at this hour anyway, I always know he's here, and today he's not here. He's in Portland with the other young giant. They had a brothers' night out last night because this weekend is the weekend the older of the two takes off for Olympia - to stay there and not come home at night, and to have new intellectual challenges - and to live among roommates and other strangers.
Last night the brothers had a night out, and then the older stayed all night and will take the younger to his college for the day's orientation for his own new college adventure this year.
Last night, we two - the mom and the dad - turned out the lights and put the dishes into the dishwasher all by ourselves before we went to bed (it turned out that we haven't forgotten how after all). This morning when we got up, the other bedroom doors were open to the breezes, and the rooms did not contain any of our children. None. All gone.
For the past two years I have been stalking this hidden place - this Wardrobe in a spare room- this Secret Garden. The door was behind the strands of ivy called things like "student loans" and "application process" and "I really do have to have another pair of pants if I can't do laundry whenever I want to at school."
I got here - to stand in front of this door - through the math lessons and the first jobs and the driver training and the movies ... and the stories and holidays and Halloween costumes and Christmas stockings (about 30 of those one year because all the stuffed animals had to have them) and noon Mass in the middle of the week and two-wheelers with the training wheels removed and rainy days spent running off a bit of pent up energy in the nearly deserted visitors center at the Bonneville Dam.
I got here through unidentifiable rashes and persistent runny noses and various sprains and bruises and I came through a learned proficiency with Arnica and ice packs. I got here through bedtime routines and guitar lessons and road trips and "shall we pull over and take care of this?"
I got here through a murmured, gloating "ha ha ha" as the last one to finally become "taller than mom" passed by me in the living room and made a bit of a production out of noticing the top of my head again.
And here I am.
For two years now, I have circled this new place. For two years I looked at that door and knew it would open eventually. I could see it - touch it - it was right there, but it was closed.
Today, this morning, all at once, the door in the wall blew open.
Later today, the older, bearded one will come back here again. He will be here until the weekend, and I have been threatening everything from universal doom at the dump to strangling him and hiding the body if he doesn't clean his room in the next few days. He has been wondering what his nearly senile aged parents will do without him when the TV remote or the other household electronics need to be operated. For "four more sleeps" he'll be here, and then he and his dad will pile all his stuff into the car and off they'll go.
The door now blown open will not close again.
This is the place where David and I live now.
Once, a long time ago, we informed a small sleepy child that "this is a two-person bed" and so no, he could not come in. He could be on the carpet beside the bed if he wanted to, though.
Now this is a two-person house.
Now the door has opened and we are in a two-person house. Our secret garden is for us, and we have waited with great anticipation for this. We worked for it. We made sure the small sleepy children grew up to anticipate their own doors and gardens. And now it's here. This is it.
And it's beautiful, all right.
All the doors are open in here, for one thing, and the light and breeze pass through freely. There's no more need for quiet or privacy or keeping out the toddlers. This is a wide open place.
There are new things growing and we will tend them together. And the seasons look different in here. I can't really take it all in, but it's beautiful.
You go ahead without me for a minute. Look around. No, really. Go ahead. In fact, see that area over there? It's called The Mom Finally Gets Her Degrees. Maybe you could go poke around over there and figure out what some of that stuff is. No, I'm okay. I just want to sit here for a minute. Really. I'll catch up later.
Oh, wait. Did you bring any tissues? I could use one.