Margaret sits cross-legged on Kenny’s bedroom floor, surrounded by clear, plastic totes. The bed is taken apart and stacked in the corner, most of his dresser has been packed away, and a stack of color samples sits in the built-in bookshelf in the opposite corner. She thumbs through one of the totes full of comic books. Ridiculous, really, how much money her little boy spent on all these things. She tries to hold back the tears as memories of his running up the stairs, plastic bag in hand, to jumping on his bed and reading overcome her.
No one ever tells you it is going to be like this. He is not gone, she tells herself, just in Switzerland on his honeymoon before moving into his, and his new wife’s, home across town. Nothing really is changing. He had not lived at home for three years, keeping this room only for visits. Still, it will not be his room anymore. This is the whole point of being a parent, is it not, this moment when you let them go to roam the world on their own? Why, then, does she feel this profound sense of loss?
Sighing as she packs his clothes away she cannot push back the memories of this time or that when she told him to throw this shirt or that away. He kept them, despite fading to the point of being unrecognizable. She resists the urge to put those shirts in the totes that will remain in this house. He will want them for when his gaming buddies come over. They are Taylor’s problem now.
This will be the guest room, a place for a revolving door of friends and family to use. Kenny will not need it anymore. He is not coming home from college. When he visits it will be for the day, for an hour, for a few minutes, from just across town, where she will rarely see him during his busy weeks. Ken Sr. has plans for this room. He pretends to not be affected, but Margaret knows better. Finishing up she puts the comics in the “for here” stack. Kenny wants his little cousins to enjoy them when they visit. She thinks about this, she thinks about adolescent feet charging up the stairs, and smiles.
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