Nancy took my daughter—our daughter—to the MN State Fair yesterday. They both love the state fair. (I do not.)
When they discovered their mutual love for food-on-a-stick and barns full of critters, they talked about going together but Katie hadn't mentioned anything about it recently. Yesterday, she called when she got back to describe their day together. It was the first I'd heard of this adventure.
Every other time they've gotten together, I've played some part in the planning or execution or something. I've known beforehand and helped Katie think things through or work things out or get ready. Now, they're handling all that for themselves. That's how it should be—I am not and should not be part of the relationship they're building.
Even though I understand that and even though I tried my best to remain semi-sane, something hot and green and scratchy rose in my chest as Katie told stories about the fun she and Nancy and Marilyn (Nancy's mother) had together. I am genuinely happy for her at the same time I'm miserable for myself. I got through the conversation normally but gave in to tears the moment the phone snapped shut.
When I stopped crying, I decided I was hungry and picked up the phone to order a pizza. Something deep inside me said no to that plan. I cried some more while searching the pantry for chocolate. My hands were full of butter and chocolate when recognition set in: Chocolate cookies cannot transform me into my children's only mother.
My one-word text to Jim was an SOS: Ride? His "Sounds good" was a life raft.
Within 10 minutes, I was pedaling furiously down the highway, racing the rain and the pain and the clock. When I reached the relative safety of the trail, the tears rose again. A few stray raindrops and beads of sweat and tears of self-pity streamed off my face, into a wind I hoped would carry them to "where the river meets the almighty sea," that place where "all the clouds are taught to fly" and "in our hearts we'll understand." I do so want to understand.
At the park, Jim graciously ignored the state I was in and followed me down the trail. We cruised back to the car an hour later with just enough light to get the bikes racked safely. He dropped me at home and went off to his Thursday night poker game.
Molly didn't whisper any answers as we traveled, but she did carry me away from the false comfort of cheese and chocolate. She bore the weight of my sadness. She forced me to maintain my balance despite my fear. For today, that's fair enough.