Well, the big day is here. This morning, we deliver Catherine and the 3,000 things she had to have to Hofstra University.
Everyone else is sleeping. I’ve been up since 4:45, head pounding from clenching my teeth all night, trying my darndest to program “stoic” in to my emotional framework for the day — if only until we turn the car back toward Connecticut this afternoon.
“Bouncing off the walls” only begins to describe the situation here at the house. Catherine is in full-blown “get me out of here”/”must I go?” mode and she’s dragged us right along with her.
In the echo of another little girl Mom will remember well, at least 10 times a day, she’s been asking, “Will you miss me?”
(I’ve taken care to vary my answers, inserting levity whenever possible, but she really didn’t like it when I responded, “Who?!”)
Last night, over the requested last family meal of baked ziti and garlic bread (who knew today’s activities require carb-loading?), she asked us again.
We acknowledged that we might miss her, a little, but that we have plans of our own.
“What are you going to do?!” she asked, eyeing us as though we were mental patients.
“We’ll be going places and doing things,” Basil replied.
She was not swayed.
As I went for another forkful of the pasta, I said to Basil, “She thinks we’re going to sit on the couch and cry the whole time she’s gone, like we have no life except as it connects to her.”
Catherine countered: “I see young, engaged couples having fun and I can’t believe you guys ever did things like that. You’re just parents to me.”
We explained that there was life BC (Before Catherine).
“Back when we had time, energy and money, we did lots of fun things,” I told her.
Basil added: “We went out all the time.”
Never one to pull punches, Catherine looked to me and added this stinger: “Well, you must have loved that. Because you don’t do anything now.”
Well then. There’s only one possible recourse: What is the most embarrassing outfit I can wear today?