I knew this was coming. I’d been preparing for it for a few months. In some ways that made it harder.
When the day finally arrived, I wasn’t home. I was in Tahiti trying not to think that, as Lauren and I were snorkeling for the first time ever off the coral reefs of Bora Bora, Evan was being tucked into his carseat and transported to his new home down the road a ways.
Our wise and kind daughter, Rosalyn, had planned it this way. So we wouldn’t have to be there to see them go. She knows how much PoP! here loves to get Evan up in the morning – every morning. For 2 1/2 years I’ve tiptoed up to his door and listened for him to stir, or talk to himself, or sing the Evan and PoP! song. It was the same every morning. I would say, “Hey!” Evan would respond with “Hey you” and then I would go in for hugs, kisses, prayers, the Apostle’s Creed (yes!), and maybe a story.
I love my kids. But it’s different with grandkids. Joy. Freedom from some of the worries that haunt first-timers – also known as parents. I don’t know. I do know that when he looks up at me he sees his PoP! and not a parent. That when he asks for a “combination” (conversation) he prefers more of a monologue – about riding down to the ranch on a big red firetruck with a silver light made out of a magic peach that lights up the magical windmill rocketship with blades that spin so, so fast and sparkly (red, blue, green, yellow, and vermillion) that it takes off for the moon where we meet green moon-men and drink green moon-juice and then fly back through the stars and down through the clouds to land just as Mommy steps out on the back porch with a plate full of warm cookies and ice-cold milk and vanilla ice cream.
His room is empty. The bed is gone. The toys are packed away for the most part.
I walk out onto our deck that juts out into the back yard and I notice a couple of tennis balls hiding away under the sweet potato vine that blankets the rock fountain – two that Evan swung at and missed. He always swings. No such thing as taking a pitch. And I notice the bare spot where he always stood, bat in hand, is starting to grow over with fresh Emerald Zoisia.
The grass, the bat and balls, the bedroom. The house. The front porch rocking chairs. They are reserved for visits now. Now Evan and Ollie (my nickname for Rosalyn) live in her newly renovated home.
Just down the road a bit.
Ten light years away.