It can still bring me near to tears, what Lincoln said to the people of Springfield when he left that place to take the oath of office. I love every part of that speech, but today especially I’m thinking of the part where he refers to God as being that one who can go with him, and remain with them, and be everywhere for the good. I think about that a lot when I‘m leaving a place and wish I could leave and stay at the same time. Even checking out of a hotel room I stop at the door, suitcase and car keys in hand and thank the room for sheltering me. I picture how it will feel to itself empty, before the next guest arrives. I wonder if a part of me remains there always. I had a moment of such wondering this past fall in a hotel room as I looked out my small window at this view, which I captured on my phone. I was packed and ready to go that morning, but I had some time to think. Thanks to the lifting of that fog of Obligation I feel so often, I was able to just sit a while.
He’s staying here not for the cats: the cats are safe in Heaven. He’s staying here not for the plants either: just last Monday I brought all the plants to ‘summer camp’ on the screened-in porch where the light and the moist May air will make them practically jump for joy. He’s not staying to bring in the mail, which you can stop and start up again in 30 seconds via the USPS website.
He is staying here because he’s a member of our family by now and I can confidently picture him here, since he stayed her for much of the summer before this one that’s about to begin.
He will lower the blinds in the kitchen, a thing we never think to do. He’ll stock the shelves with his weir bright blue juices and his Ramen Noodles and his Pop Tarts. He’ll wash the dishes and wipe down the counters every day because that’s how he is, and then jump on his bike and ride off, enjoying this free week before his summer job starts.
So this person will take care of my house. And maybe, 30 years from now when he comes back to help bury me, he will remember himself here, a young man with his life all before him, even as I remember myself waking up here for the first time on a spring day in 1979, a young woman nine months pregnant, with curly black hair, and my own life before me too.