A thousand years ago, when I was a very newly hatched fully growed woman in college, the end of every semester seemed to happen in a time-space continuum that flexed and bent and slowed more and more, when all I wanted it to do was move faster. And then, after the semester was over, and I was finally back on a plane headed for the cool, wet, lush, clean Pacific Northwest, the plane would fly into that weird space, and it would go slower and slower. Hurry hurry hurry. All I wanted was to be home. Please just take me home.
After I fell in love between my sophomore and junior years, it only got worse. Take me home. Take me home. Hurry up! My love is at home. My room and the air that is freshened when it rains - not thickened, like at school in Gulf. By the end of my senior year, something happened to the bendy, stretchy continuum. Perhaps I flew out the other side of it. Whatever it was, I came to a kind of serene contentment that nothing could disturb any more. Married soon. Soon. Soon. No longer hurry hurry, but soon soon.
Today there are only a matter of days - less than several weeks - it's soon soon. By the time I turn fifty at the beginning of July, one son will have graduated from college, my own university quarter will be over, and my soldier daughter will be home at last. Feet on American soil.
A couple of weeks ago, my love, her dad, as we were headed to bed one night, said (somewhat out of the blue), "I know we've been putting a brave face on all of this, but it will be good when it's over and she's not there anymore."
Yesterday, while I stayed home getting rid of the last of this phlegmtastic infection that flattened me last week and he went to church without me, Memorial Day was acknowledged by way of Hymn 513 - the alternative words to "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." In the alternative version, meant to encompass all the branches of the armed services, the words of the second verse are
O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain
O'er which our traffic runs amain
By mountain pass or valley low;
Wherever, Lord, thy brethren go,
Protect them by thy guarding hand
From every peril on the land.
He did not want to sing it. I suspect that he could not.
More than three years ago, we told our daughter that we were proud of her. We were. We are. We did not tell her about the many nights when we went to bed and cried at night. "Our daughter is in the army," I said. "I know," he said. And we cried. Our girl. Our tall, thin, solid, fair-skinned, funny, exasperating, lovely girl. She was carrying a gun and wearing a uniform. And we were proud of her. We are proud of her. And we cried.
We are crying again. The former and latter rains - the tears that water our ground fore and aft. Thank God for rain. We would burst open if we could not release this.
Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.