The woman lay in my arms, crying softly, wiping the tears with the sheet of her bed, and I knew better than to speak. Her son was ten and had boarded a bus for summer camp earlier in the day and his mother was inconsolable. She got up, walked to the window, her body framed by moonlight and darkness, and I remember vividly her silhouette. 

“This is the first time in his life I have no idea where he is. I don’t know the town he’s in, I have no idea if he’s hungry or cold or sleeping, or if he’s snuck out of the cabin with some kid he just met and walking around in the woods. I have no idea where he is,” she said in a whisper. 

I got up and put my arms around her and said nothing. 

“It’s started like this, you know, one day I let some guy I met be intimate with me, we fell in love, and I got pregnant. I had a son, and now, ten years later, that kid is out there, somewhere, maybe not even missing me, and it’s like the first kiss, it’s going to lead to other things. In five years he’ll be driving, in eight he’ll go off to college or join the military, but right now, at this very moment, it’s beginning. It’s ending for me, to have him around,” the sound was nearly inaudible. 

“I so needed some time, to feel loved, to be loved beyond my function was a mom, I so wanted to experience life without a kid around, you know, for a few days, but one day it’s going to be like this for months at a time, maybe even years, and right now I can feel the distance, I can taste it  my mouth, I can smell it,” her voice was low but emphatic. 

“If you got me pregnant tonight I would be happy, I would rejoice that I could stay in motherhood longer, but eventually, it has to end, I have to define myself in other ways, just like my son is doing right now. He’s left the orbit, he’s out there doing kid things with kids, and right now he’s tasting what it’s like to be away from home. He’s going to want more. He’s going to crave adventure, and I know, don’t fucking say it, I know I have to allow it, but it’s been such a short ten years, so little time, just a blink of an eye, and now I can see that in another ten I might be a grandmother, and he’ll be a father maybe, but there’s nothing that seems longer than having kids until you wake up one day and realize they’re going to leave,” she turned and grabbed me, hugging me tighter than I could stand almost. 

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