Often after dinner, one of the girls will want to know what I am doing. Are you busy now? Do you have jobs to do? they ask.
What do you need? I’ll say cleaning up the counters. Do you have something you want to do together?
A lot of times, the answer is the same. I don’t need anything, I just want to be with you.
My children have this in common. Boy one hovers, chattering incessantly. When doing homework he wants to be two feet from wherever everyone else is. He thinks of questions to ask at night, just to have an excuse to hang around where we are. Boy two likes to read nearby in case I start reading something out loud to the girls. He swears he can listen to me read one book and read his own book at the same time. I have my doubts, but I don’t think it’s the stories that he cares about. The girls are young enough to be straightforward about it. They don’t care about the doing, they want us to be together.
I keep coming back to this idea. I just want to be with you. Girl two’s voice will echo in my head for a little while and then I start to hear the way Girl one says it.
My knickers are in horrible knots right now from trying to get everything right. Coming up to Easter, the stones in my head are rolling around trying to sort it all out. I wonder if the whole thing: baby in the manger through to dying man on a cross, is the long version of, I just want to be with you.
I think about it and my mind starts drifting. I see a picture of myself in a department store (shopping for me = traumatic exercise). I have been trying on clothes, only to discover that I’ve wet myself somehow. This cannot be happening, I am many things, but I am not yet incontinent. At least I wasn’t. There is no explanation really, just a puddle on the floor around my soggy shoes. I look around desperate for what I am to do, how I am to clean it up, and then what. I am wondering if people will smell it before I can fix it. And then there He is, long hair, white robe Bible clothes and all. Standing in the middle of Sears, in the middle of Holy Week, in the middle of the pictures in my head, smiling at me.
I don’t know what to do.
It’s not Easter yet, I say.
He doesn’t speak, but I know what he’s saying.
I just want to be with you.
There is nothing to do. Nothing to worry about doing.
Me too, I whisper.