In the heavy silence of a Saturday morning before dawn I waved goodbye to Cal and Alexi, trying my best not to inhale the painfully frigid air. As they drove away under a canopy of stars I could feel Cal’s heft against the curve of my hip; the salty scent of his sweat lingering in my nostrils. I used to carry him to the car when I had to wake him up for a hockey game. I’m not sure when I stopped.
After they left, I crept into Abbott’s room to leave a note letting him know I would be out walking Nelly. His face looked serious as he dreamed, a little circle of pink on each cheek. He sleeps with his windows open, blankets piled high on top of him, for the pleasure of the contrast between warmth and frozen air. I felt a stab of anticipatory loss. The remaining nights when he'll crawl into bed with us because he can’t sleep are numbered. I won’t be able to recognize the last time for what it is, though I think we’ll always be able to comfort each other with a look.
The stars had disappeared, though the moon was still visible, when Nelly and I started off down the street. The few sounds there were - the tapping of Nelly’s nails on the pavement, the occasional chirp of an early bird, the mournful cry of a gull - added to the general tranquility. In the deep stillness of that wintry moment I felt like myself in the truest sense of the word. I was simultaneously also my girl self in moon boots watching the Northern Lights through sleep-encrusted lashes; a teenager, awed by the halfhearted ascent of the winter sun through the window of my math classroom; the old woman I'll be someday, remembering hockey on weekend mornings when the boys were small.