My daughter moved out of her apartment yesterday. She is back home until she leaves for a holiday in Europe at the end of the month before starting her internship at FAO’s headquarters in Rome.
It only seemed like yesterday when she told me excitedly about having found an apartment.
“It’s really nice Mummy. Jesse lives in a building across the street, and do you remember Bart? He also lives in Stuyvesant town. There are tennis courts, a playground a grass oval where they have concerts and picnics.”
“it sounds really nice. How much is the rent?”
“It is a bit more than I was hoping of paying, but I love it. I am taking over from another girl who is moving to LA which makes the whole thing so much easier. Oh, and I like the girl in the other room, I’m sure we’ll be friends.”
Straight after getting her Master in International NGO Administration, Florentina had applied for a job at NYU before leaving for a summer long holiday, the first in a couple of years.
We were driving along a country lane in the Sicilian countryside early last August, when her cell phone rung. It was her boss to be, calling with the welcome news that she got the job.
We flew back to New York on the 17th of August. She started work on the 18th and ten days later she had found this gorgeous little apartment within walking distance of her office.
“And guess what Mummy? Tigger’s dorm is on my way to my office. And my office is on his way to his classes. We’ll see each every day,” she said, smiling from ear to ear.
And not for the first time, I thanked whatever God maybe, that my children were closer than any siblings I knew. And I was grateful that they’d be close geographically as well. I knew that Andrew liked having his sister close by.
Taking the last of her things out of the apartment last night, I fought the urge to cry.
Standing in the middle of her empty room, Florentina looked disconsolate.
“He helped me move in. He used to come and visit and have dinner with me.”
I nodded. Stubborn tears streaming down my face.
I remember spotting Andrew, smiling and talking with his room-mate, walking down 14th street on their way to meet us at Florentina’s new apartment.
As Florentina continued driving I rolled down my window and called out to him. He looked around for a couple of seconds until he saw me waving from the car. His face lit up, he laughed at my frantic waving and waved back.
A few minutes later we met outside Florentina’s building and downloaded the car.
In a way I am glad that I won’t have any more reasons to go back to that area.
Fourteenth street, Union Square, second avenue, the corner with the Walgreen where we rendezvoused once, the Trader Joe’s a few hundred yards from his Coral Towers dorm, where he used to buy his kettle corn and Joe-Joe’s.
It was the same Trader Joe’s that I saw looking out from his window on December 31st, 2009.
On the last day of the year, a damp, grey and snowy morning, we packed Andrew’s clothes, books, posters, tea, coffee, fondue set, stale Joe, Joe’s and the spicy hot peanuts from Whole Food that I had given him. In the freezer was a lonely tub of ice cream called Peace. I took it out and removed the lid.
I could see the spoon marks in the middle and around the edges, hot tears fell in it and softened the ice. I replaced the lid and put it back in the freezer.
Driving home last night, straining to spot Andrew, the familiar hopelessness washed over me. Visions and sounds of his moving in day, and of Florentina moving into her very first apartment, stood in stark contrast to this subdued evening.
I was sad to go, and relieved to leave this area behind.
This morning, when I went into his room, Robert told me that he had dreamed of Andrew.
“Really? What did you dream?” I asked dropping the laundry and rushing to his bed.
“We where snowboarding,” he said turning to face the wall and going back to sleep.
I’ll stop here for now. I need a distraction to lift me up from the misery I feel at the loss of my wonderful son.
Bye for now,