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My Name is Lucy Barton

January 20, 2016

On the morning my youngest was to leave for Russia, I got up to a darkness strange for that hour of morning; it was snowing and it was going to snow, and that had not been in the prediction the night before; the storm was supposed to blow north of us. We left an hour earlier than we’d planned for the airport and although we saw three wrecks, weren’t in one. We had breakfast at the airport, in a restaurant from which we could see the security line, which was never very long.

After Walker went through security, I stayed at the airport for another hour or so, until it looked like his flight would take off on time. Then I drove a few miles to a shopping center in Columbus and parked at the Barnes and Noble, where I drank hot chai made with soy milk and read Elizabeth Strout’s novel My Name is Lucy Barton. I read it straight through and teared up a little at the end, sitting there in the café, “the sky lingering, lingering, then finally dark.”

It was this passage that really got me:
“When Chrissie left for college, then Becka the next year, I thought—and it’s not an expression, I’m saying the truth—I did think I would die. Nothing had prepared me for such a thing. And I have found this to be true: Certain women feel like this, that their hearts have been ripped from their chests, and other women find it very freeing to have their children gone.”

I am still in the café, and the snow is still falling, in a desultory sort of way that will probably continue until it’s too dark to see anymore. I will drive home and watch the new episode of Supernatural that’s on tonight and drive to work in the dark of the morning tomorrow, although I won’t have to worry about how dark, because it’s not that far.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 20, 2016 2:40 pm

    🙂 I send you a hug.

  2. PAJ permalink
    January 20, 2016 4:12 pm

    Exactly one year ago today, my child left for Africa. I feel your pain.

  3. January 20, 2016 8:28 pm

    Hug to you, friend. I hope Walker has a wonderful, wonderful time in Russia. I have a few friends who spent time there and loved it, and I hope that he does too! And hugs hugs hugs hugs to you.

  4. January 21, 2016 11:28 am

    This is so sad. I hope Walker has a good time in Russia and I hope your days get lighter and brighter.

  5. January 21, 2016 12:42 pm

    We’re thinking of you over here, where the weather is not ‘that’ bad. I’m so glad you had ‘Lucy Barton’ to help you through. I think it is a remarkable book.

    • January 25, 2016 8:28 am

      It was certainly a fast read, and an interesting character. I didn’t find as much to love in her as I did with Olive Kitteridge, though.

  6. January 21, 2016 1:04 pm

    You already know I was/am thinking of you as this stage begins. From my perspective, it’s a good stage if scary and sometimes lonely. I hope that it becomes that way for you too.

  7. January 23, 2016 7:36 pm

    Your posts about your kids give me a glimpse into my possible future. My boy is 4, but I sometimes think ahead to a time when he will have a life of his own (God willing) and choose his own direction. Will he stay close to home? Will he venture far away? I can only hope that his Dad and I can equip him with all the tools he needs to create a good life for himself, wherever that may lead. My mother heart sympathizes with yours, even if we’re not at the same stage.

    • January 25, 2016 8:34 am

      It does make me proud that my kids are brave enough to venture far away, at least for a while.
      Four is a fun age. Walker was a hand-holder at that age; he liked to hold my hand wherever we went.

  8. February 13, 2016 8:39 am

    The passage you quoted struck me, too, when I read it, although I’m one of the ones that found it freeing. I always knew my kids would grow up and leave (I did it when I was young) so it wasn’t a shock, and also there were three of them, so it took six years for the nest to empty completely, but it does make me proud, like you, to see them brave and independent…striking out on their own. Russia sounds like an exciting adventure!

    • February 13, 2016 9:09 am

      It has been exciting to hear about it, and see his photos. Skype works from St. Petersburg as well or better as it does from Tucson.

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