SATURDAY, June 19 – Whoa! We couldn’t help it. C and I saw each other for the first time, after three weeks of detailed emails, intense phone conversations, and affectionate text messages. We were simply no match for this intense lovesickness.
Kissing. Kissing in front of the boys (and her girls). It felt so good, so embarrassing, so natural, so honest. Also, somewhat confronting for Sander and Eamonn. They totally ignored our kissing, but not really, as later became clear.
‘You probably noticed that C and I are very fond of each other,’ I began, as we headed back to the campgrounds after midnight.
Mumbles of assent.
‘So how to you feel about that?’
Sander began: ‘You know what you promised us in the hospital, right?’
‘Yes,’ said Eamonn, ‘you promised us you wouldn’t remarry.’
In a fraction of a second I was back in that moment. I remembered exactly how I responded to Eamonn’s remark, scarcely a minute after I told them that Mom would never wake up again. He was on my lap and Sander was standing next to me, all three of us were crying. And then, in a mad moment of visionary clarity and prospective anxiety, he turned to me and said: ‘And now you’re probably going to get married again. But not really, are you?’ My head was spinning as I replied with the words, ‘Kids, remarrying is probably just about the last thing on my mind.’
Fast forward to this night, in the car, on a jet-black, winding road in the hills outside Nice. It wouldn’t have been helpful to get into a discussion about the precise wording, so I said nothing.
Then Eamonn said, ‘Whatever happens, she’s not my mother.’
At least that was an opening.
‘Eamonn, you only have one mother, and that’s Mom. No one can ever replace her, and you can take my word for that.’
‘And, in any case,’ I said into the darkness, ‘marriage is so totally out of the question at this point.’ Definitely the last thing on my mind. Children apparently think several kisses ahead. I wonder how this is going to affect the security of their world?
‘Sander, what do you think?’
He didn’t feel really at ease, he admitted. And he’d had his suspicions earlier in the day. All that obsessive text messaging back and forth.
I had to laugh. He was not amused.
‘It feels as if you’ve already left Mom behind you. But actually, I don’t really want to talk about it.’
So we let it pass. But it was still racing around in my head. I was searching for a bit of wisdom that would do justice to their feelings – and my own.
And I found it. (I hope.) ‘Boys whatever happens, I will always love Mom. Forget her? Never, never, never. For grown-ups, for me, there’s also such a thing as personal happiness. But do you know what is even more important? My sons. You and you. You’re what counts. And nothing – and no one – will ever change that.’
And I meant every word.