A Pat on the Back Tore my Heart Out

My soon-to-be 23-year-old son decided not to come home for the summer when he finished school. After all, it was his final year of university, and he wanted to be on his own. I totally understood, I had felt the same way many years ago. And when the pandemic hit, he already had a job interview and still planned on living in the city. I was, and still am, proud of his decision. Even our daughter, 4 ½ years older and still living at home, decided to move in with her boyfriend and his family. So, in the middle of March, not only did my husband and I find ourselves in the middle of this pandemic, we also became empty nesters. We see our daughter weekly as she doesn’t live too far away, but not so often with our son.

In early April, we made the hour-and-a-half drive to our son’s Ottawa home to drop off a car. We did not want him taking public transportation. We didn’t see him again until about two-weeks ago, when he and his “bubble” of three friends rented a cabin at a campground down the road from us. He and his friends visited every day over the 2 ½ days they were here. It was nice, but weird. We only visited outside, and maintained physical distancing.

This past Sunday, our son came home again for a couple of days to celebrate his birthday a week early as he was off from work, but this time he was on his own. He stayed in a trailer we borrowed and set up in our yard. He went in the house twice to use the bathroom (there’s a chemical toilet in the trailer). Both times I sanitized before and after and the windows were open. We sat outside and talked, we ate meals outside, he and my husband went fishing on our pontoon boat (my husband at the back driving and our son at the front lots of space in-between), we stayed away from each other.

Before he left tonight, I asked him if it was okay if I patted him on the back.  The last time we’d hugged was in February. I told him to hold his breath, and I would do the same. The second I touched him; my heart broke and tears sprang to my eyes.

The next time I see my daughter, I will do the same with her, knowing that when I do, my heart will tear again.

Multiple Me(s)

When I was a young mother
I thought how handy it would be
To split myself up into
Resourceful multiple me(s).

There’d be a me for my daughter
And a me for my son
And I certainly would not forget
The me for my hon.
 
A me for all the cooking and cleaning
A sort of domestic queen,
And a me to run to my part-time job
Or any job in between.
 
There’d be a me for my family,
The ones I grew up with
And a me to go out with my friends
To yak, and chat, and dish.
 
But when I lay my head down at night
The me(s) would all unite
And discuss the things we did that day,
What went wrong and what went right.
 
In the morning we’d divide again
And start the day anew
Spend our time and attention
On you and you and you.
 
And then of course the me for me
Because that’s important too.
As I have needs, desires, and wants
And things I’d like to do.
 
So when all the me(s) have done their job
And everyone is satisfied.
The me for me comes out to play
Thewon’t be denied.