As a rule, I’m not a lonely kind of person. On the contrary, even though I can be a social butterfly, I like time by myself ... plenty. Friday, though, that empty feeling came over me like a cloud while strolling across an open field with Rudy. I was simply longing for Calvin to be there walking by my side like mothers and sons are meant to do.

It was a gorgeous fall day, seventy clear degrees and slightly windy. I figured a motorcycle ride might be in order, that perhaps the rush would somehow boost my adrenaline, raise my spirits.

I rode a couple of towns north, crossed a low bridge nearly grazing the waters of the tidal river below it, rumbled over some train tracks and into a lot sloping down to the water. I cut the engine, hung my helmet in the crook of my arm and trudged down to a bench at the edge of the grassy bank. There—alone—I had a good cry.

Through bleary eyes I gazed out over the smooth water. I leaned forward peering over the rocky edge into the mud. It looked like the kind of bank that I used to catch frogs in as a kid, something my dad taught me how to do. No frogs here: brackish. I should be skipping stones with Calvin, I thought. The rock in my heart grew heavier imagining his little bee legs taking him in loops around the park, finding the perfect flat smooth stones I did as a child and hurling them side-armed across the water’s surface with me. How sweet would it be if, running to me with cupped hands, he'd declare, "look Mama, I got a frog!" Pure bliss, I thought. Closing my eyes, the late sun’s sorry angle gave me pause. I never liked this time of day this time of year. The lengthening shadows meant I had to leave my neighborhood pals behind, saunter down our pitted gravely lane to get ready for dinner, that soon after it’d be bedtime, what with school the next day. Made me sad.

My hands smoothed over warm slats of the weathered wooden bench beneath me. Whitish cement buttresses the color and texture of bone book-ended the slats. I recalled my father’s ashes, the same color and grain of these two porous slabs. My mom had given us all little jars filled with them. The ashes I got were in a Tostitos salsa jar. I knew Dad would’ve found that humorous and so it made me smile. Perfect, I thought. Shaking the jar sounded just as you’d imagine, like a jar of coarse dirt, the inside glass coated with chalky residue. I had spread his ashes in the seas of both coasts, poured some in my hand, fingered the dust and pebbly grains of bone around on my palm, even tasted some on the tip of my tongue before casting them away in the wind. Ours was a perfect relationship between father and daughter, I thought. At least it seems that way to me now.

A dog’s bark echoed from just up the lane, its owner and her little girl, Calvin’s age, crossing the quiet road, their happy voices trailing down to meet the water. My heart sunk another notch. It was a lonesome sound amongst the silence save the wind rustling through trees, seemed like a ghost town. I half expected to see a tumbleweed roll by. It felt like the town in To Kill a Mockingbird, all black and white like the words on the page. Across the river a tiny ferry boat bobbed tethered to a shifting dock—wood rubbing against wood squawking exactly like wild geese. I'm all alone, I thought. Nobody knows I’m here. Even if I’d told Calvin he’d have no clue, couldn’t find me, wouldn’t look for me or wonder where I was. When I’m gone he doesn’t miss me. We’ll never have that kind of bond I long for, the kind of connection that grows with the years, the most important link between any two beings. The kind where we talk about hopes, dreams, fears, goals, desires, love, risks, failures, hardships—each conversation gouging a deeper, more beautiful vein in soft bark that says, we were here ... together. That just isn’t ever going to happen, and it makes me lonesome, so very lonesome sometimes.

My tears having dried into trails of salt on my cheeks, I jumped back on my bike and sailed off. Cool shadows had formed along the winding road as the daylight dwindled. My knuckles got cold. And though Calvin would have no idea I’d left or where I had been, maybe it didn’t really matter, I tried to tell myself that anyway. After all, I was completely thrilled about the notion of seeing him and having him wrap his little arms around my neck when I finally got back home. Then I won't be lonesome anymore.

photo by Michael Kolster


  1. those moments really are lonely and deep; i am sorry you were feeling so sad, but for me, there is some sort of clarity that comes from it too. it is sometimes that i realize, we all live alone, and we are fortunate if we have relationships with others that give comfort and companionship through life, if we have those whom we can love deeply. and knowing you and Calvin, just a little bit, i think you are both very special persons, who were 'chosen' or chose one another in some sort of spirit sense. goofy as that may sound, that's what i think.

    call me sometime. i would love to have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with you. or i will call you.

    love, shar

  2. sharon r from summer school? thanks for writng and for your very kinds words. i do not believe, however, that we were chosen for each other. luck of the draw, chance, in my opinion. call me any time. would love to have coffee. xo