MONDAY, December 21 – What do I write? What is there to observe or to register in this quiet house in suburbia, where I’m lying on the same creaky double bed the two of us shared for years. Though it was on the narrow side, it was still a perfect match, our bodies meeting in various places.
What to say about the place Sander refers to as our home away from home, since we’ve spent so many summers and winters here. Less than three hours by car from Washington D.C. and only an hour from New York, it was a welcoming destination whether we were coming from London or Amsterdam.
A familiar headquarters, a home base from which to visit the shore and family and friends, or explore other cities – all activities that we cannot summon the energy for right now. What to say about our host and hostess, Grandma and Grandpa, visibly suffering the pain of their absent daughter. Every day they’re a year older as they busy themselves trying to entertain us, all the while asking themselves, just as I do, ‘Oh, Jennifer… where are you?’
What can I say about the photos scattered on walls and tabletops around the house: in the living room her formal high school portrait, and the sweet photo of her – back then with long hair – in front of a Dutch windmill after she moved to Holland; the one on the fridge, taken on Sander’s eleventh birthday when he celebrated with a cake he’d made himself and in the dining room the various family portraits taken over the years, including our wedding portrait.
What to write except for this: what was, is. What is, once was. The past is pervasive in the present and we crave the invisible strength that will show us the way to the future.