Essays from The Education of a Bengali Gentleman
When the morning came . . . .
And when the morning came, the house began to empty out. First the luggage went in the trunk. Shoes, wraps and jackets came on. Then followed the hugs and kisses. A traditional group hug. The car filled up and safety belts clicked. The garage door closed and the car backed out of the driveway. The nose turned towards the expressway. The forty five minute drive to the airport started. We tried the old ways of recapping the events of the last seven days together in happiness, feasting and sharing stories. But this time it never even got started. Just silence filled the car.
It was a cloudy, cold and blustery day. Typical of a winter storm preparing to unleash on Chicago. There was no bird of summer, a fleeting, flash of cardinal red, to cheer us up. I tried the radio but quietly turned it off as petulant expressions spread across the faces in the rearview window. Someone started on a list of the many delicious dishes over the last several days. Once again the disgruntled faces shut that down. All eyes stayed focused on the road the signs narrating the distance left to reach the airport. Still a half hour away, each minute would hang around for a lifetime.
Last night I had ventured again the idea that they all move back home. Had I forgotten that almost eight years had passed since the youngest had left home, the oldest almost fifteen. No one had moved back as jobs and livelihoods were elsewhere. Why go down that painful path again? Maybe it was time we picked up and settled closer to the children. But with the house was still underwater, was that a feasible alternative. Every aspect of every rejected solution hung around like an imposing gray cloud adding to the dreary atmosphere of a winter storm steadily drawing closer.
Through a shroud of cloud and mist the skyline of Chicago came into view and fell behind as the expressway swerved towards Midway airport. One of the girls asked if they had remembered to bring the money their mother had given them for breakfast at the airport. They each make enough and more but such a thoughtful gift from mother is received with much celebration. Fortunately one of them had. Suddenly all traffic got squeezed into one landed headed for the departure drop off. Amongst the press of vehicles, I got caught finding a safe place to pull in and park. No one was allowed to stop for long. So once the luggage came out of the trunk, more hugs and kisses were exchanged, and the final goodbyes. While the children waited in line to check in, we were signalled to pull out and begin and even quieter, therefore return trip home. Rain had started and a few flakes were mixed in too. There probably would be a thin coating waiting by the drive we pulled into the garage. By next day it will look more like Christmas but the light and joys of our lives were gone. Soon the text messages of cleared for boarding, takeoff and safe landing begun to arrive. We were grateful that they had made it safely back to their homes. By the time evening fell we would get accustomed to our lives and routines, the daily phone calls, texts and exchange of photos. It never feels the same as sharing the sofa, however tightly packed in, over a hot cup of cocoa.