I shot straight up in bed thinking I'd already missed her. But she'd never leave without saying goodbye.
"Taxi's here. Walk me out?"
I looked over at the clock. 4:35am.
"You have your book? Your iPod? Your charger?" I ask, as I shove beef jerky and seeds into her bag and hand her a couple of croissants.
"Yup, yup, and yup. I'll text you from the gate."
And off she went.
Crawling back into bed, searching for the warm side, searching for her scent on the pillow. Tossing and turning. Suddenly noticing every crick and creak. Getting up twice to check on the kids. Check the windows. Check the doors.
It's not the first time she's traveled for work, of course. But it's been a while. And it affects me the same way every single time. It doesn't matter if we've just been arguing or just been vacationing. If we're on or off the same page. Her absence leaves a deafening vacuum. And it's just. barely. tolerable.
"Made it through security. At my gate," came her text. 5:55am.
I rolled over again. Five more minutes til 6-oh-oh. But sleep was too far from my grasp, tangled up in thoughts of boarding passes, and middle seats, and will she remember to grab a water and eat a little before she boards?
"Where's Mommy?" she asks sleepily from the foot of the bed, eyebrows furrowed, lower lip pouting, rubbing her eyes with both hands.
"She's traveling today, baby, remember?" and she crawls under the sheet with me and snuggles in so close I feel we're going to spontaneously combust. And then he's right behind her. Hovering in the doorway. Not wanting to come in. To admit that she's gone. Because he knows it's not the same around here without her. The sounds are different. The silence is different. The smells and feel in the air are different. And he crawls in reluctantly on the other side of me, inching his way under my arm, legs tangled around my own. And we stare at the shadows on the ceiling. And just lay there.
"I miss her," she says.
"Me, too," he says.