There is a 53-foot moving van outside my house, and Tommy, my 2-year-old son, is plastered to the front door.
“Moving van!” he says, trying to press himself through the glass and onto the front porch, where he will be two feet closer to the biggest truck he has ever seen.
I wish I could close the front door and make the truck vanish.
Instead, I watch as four burly men carefully load up my neighbor Elise’s blue L-shaped sofa, the one she bought after her cat peed all over her old couch. I spent many evenings curled up on one end of that sofa, Tommy asleep in a baby seat at my feet as I talked to Elise while she cross-stitched.
As I watch her memories getting boxed and moved into the truck, I realize just how many of them are my memories, too.
There goes the black and chrome bar stool she was sitting on when I burst into her kitchen to tell her I was pregnant with Tom, my firstborn. She was the first to know — before even my husband.
That box probably holds the bedding from her teenage stepdaughter’s bedroom, where I painted a small mural of Hibiscus flowers to match the pattern on her sheets.
That old oak church pew sat in her dining room, where she held my baby shower. She invited all the women in the neighborhood to welcome me into the club of mothers.
From Elise, I learned how to mother young children. I remember the day I saw her gardening in her yard with her 18-month-old daughter, Emily. As Elise planted Black-Eyed Susans, Emily was dipping her toothbrush in the dirt and sticking it in her mouth, leaving rivulets of mud and drool dripping onto her adorable pink shirt. A lesser mother would have scolded and fussed; Elise just smiled and asked Em if she was having fun.
I remember hoping I would someday be a mother like that.
Before the truck pulls away, Elise calls me over to help clean out her fridge. She leaves behind her ketchup, a jar of dill pickles, some hot fudge sauce. She asks if I could use them.
When that moving van drives away, Tommy cries. So do I.