I sat across from my daughter Melissa in a booth inside a small, Mediterranean-style restaurant, eating a falafel and enjoying our conversation.
Yet, something didn't feel quite right.
While Black Friday crowds filled shopping centers and malls across the nation, the stores and restaurants that usually enjoyed a lively Friday night business in this Washington, DC neighborhood were virtually deserted. The business district had all but closed up shop as its steady stream of customers, courtesy of nearby American University, had returned home for Thanksgiving weekend.
Except for this small, Mediterranean-style restaurant.
The few people that did venture into the eatery were, no doubt like my daughter, fellow American University students.
I savored my meal as much as the company, yet, still, something didn't feel quite right. Fellow moms, or fellow adults for that matter, were non-existent.
I felt strange. Out of place.
Two days earlier, my husband Bob and I were packing for our Thanskgiving journey to North Carolina to visit his family. We were going to leave Wednesday afternoon and drive straight through, with plans to check into our Raleigh hotel around 10 pm. However, our plans were thwarted when Bob woke up with a headache, chest congestion, runny nose, fever, and unrelenting weakness that rendered him barely able to walk across the room, let alone drive eight hours to North Carolina.
We were forced to choose between two options:
1. Both of us would stay home
2. Bob would stay home while I joined his family in North Carolina
I didn't want to leave him alone, especially during Thanksgiving. But Bob knew how much I had been looking forward to seeing the family. He also knew that if I stayed home, I'd spend my days alone in the house, my only company a contagious husband who would while away the hours fast asleep on the couch.
He forced me to go.
But driving eight hours all alone seemed like a daunting task. Fortunately, my elder daughter Jessica and her husband Brian, who live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, had room in their car. Following an uneventful three-hour drive to their house, I took my rightful place in the back seat next to the cutest toddler alive (my grandson Miles). We picked up Melissa at American, and hit the road.
What followed was two days of being pampered and fed by Bob's parents, and his sister Stacy and her husband Greg, who opened their home and their hearts.
On Friday morning as we packed up the car for the return trip to the Washington, DC area, I had an idea. I thought it might be nice to stay an extra day in DC and spend some mommy-daughter time with Melissa. I could take her shopping, or we could do some sightseeing...or both. Plus I thought it would be fun to live like a college student and bunk with Melissa in her dorm.
Bob encouraged the idea, assuring me he didn't mind if I spent time with the baby girl I so rarely get to see.
Melissa also welcomed the idea, especially since I volunteered to take her to Target, where she loaded the cart with clothes, shoes, and, of course, plenty of food.
But as we sat in the small, Mediterranean-style restaurant, discussing the next day's sightseeing plans, I looked around at all of the students and suddenly realized that the prospect of a 52-year old woman spending a night in a college dorm didn't seem quite as inviting.
What's more, I missed Bob terribly.
I just wanted to go home.
Melissa understood. For her, dorm living was the norm. She was in her element. With her peers. She was home, where she belonged.
For me, home was where I collapsed three hours later, into Bob's welcoming, loving arms.
|Thanksgiving just wasn't the same without my husband Bob.