I should probably explain my sudden absence.
We have been camping. I don’t mean the “camping” that my ILs do with their satellite TV and their a/c and microwave. I mean that we met friends in a county park. We cooked and ate outside, poked fire with sticks, drank beer, slept in a hammock, wore a sweatshirt in August…camped. Our kids (there were four kids between us) were filthy from playing and eating. Ella and Silas rode their bikes on the blacktop in front of the campsite and they were perfectly safe. Dogs…everywhere. The locusts kept us company at night. Camping. Real camping. The kind of weekend that I remember as a kid. The kind of weekend that I hope Ella remembers.
Stephen would have loved it.
He would have been giddy about the circa 1980-something popup camper that was only used to store food and sleep. The pop and crack of the logs (and various trim board from my friends’ house remodel…why trash it when you can burn it, right?) mixed with the soft undertones of the classic rock station filtering through the trees. He would have delighted in his daughters’ sweaty curls as they ran through on their way to visit yet another new friend. He would have held my hand in the dark. He would have talked too much, told too many stories in too much detail, as the empty beers piled up.
Maybe that’s why I was content. He would have loved it. Maybe he was actually there. Maybe he had a hand in picking the weekend with its perfect weather. Maybe he brought friends together.
And maybe it’s okay that I am happy. Maybe it’s okay to laugh and maybe it’s okay to make someone else laugh…to pull out all my old, tired jokes and Jenn-isms that would make him roll his eyes. “Hey are you feeling sensuous? Sence-you-was up…get me another beer.”
Maybe it’s okay to be a little bit charmed. And maybe it’s okay to wonder. And not just wonder what everyone else will think.
It’s probably all in my imagination…the wondering.
I try to picture myself raising these two girls by myself and I can’t do it. What I see is all the people who love them as much as I do and wondering who I will add to the list. Will anyone love them (love me) as much as he did? Maybe.
Or is this something we tell ourselves when the wondering begins?