My daughter moved 4,000 miles away last month. Her father had already cleared out a couple of years before that. For the first time in my 66 years, I’m alone. I miss her, and I miss who I am with her: a mother, a teacher, a confidant, a “straight man.” I unashamedly rely on her to remember the difference between grande and venti at Starbucks, to detangle the wires and clickers so I can watch cable, and to be the only one who, when I ask, “Does my ass look big in this?” will answer with a resounding “yes!”
My days are mostly kind and full. But as the light recedes, I begin to lose my way. I’m uncomfortable in every room of my home. I’m beset with a sorrow I can neither explain nor defend. After all, there are few more common tasks than offering your child to the future. Still, when the darkness comes, I follow. I feel restive, empty, and frightened.
And I can’t sleep.
By 2 a.m., I always end up in the same unlikely place, dragging a rocking chair to the sliding glass door. Not just any chair—the one my great-grandmother gave to my grandmother, who gave it to my mother, who gave it to me. I part the curtains and rock, looking out at the night, resigned that I’ll still be awake as it slides into dawn. The rocker is more a decoration than a functional piece of furniture. It’s a faded black, New England stiff, and spindly, almost uncomfortable. I never…