I fell apart this morning in a torrent of tears when I opened the door to Mom and Dad's house on Arapahoe this morning. Its familiarity hit me in the gut. There was the smell of the place, sunlight filtering through the window blinds and all of those things I leave behind with each visit. A hairdryer, my shampoo and hair product in the bathroom, extra shoes on the closet floor, my Donegal sweater and black turtleneck in the third drawer of the bureau, dried flowers on the kitchen table surrounded by an arrangement of stones from that beach walk with Jeanne, Kelan and Lauren last August.

In Mom and Dad’s old bedroom, there is a vase of dried roses. Roses that Dad gave to Mom years ago for some special occasion. She kept them. The house is filled with meaning, marks.

I feel like a vagabond flying back and forth from Houston, as familiar with this house as with my own. I feel absolutely alone and yet, absolutely together with my extended family. I am here and I am also ‘there.’

Teary eyed, I turned on the shower. A stalk of dried lavender sits on the extra cake of soap on the bathroom counter. Another reminder of last summer when I brought Mom springs of fresh lavender from a neighborhood rockery.

Hey, it didn’t end with the lavender. On the way to Mom and Dad’s adult family home an hour later, I noticed trees ablaze with fall colors. I thought I’d stop and gather a bunch to take to Mom. She loves fall leaves, she’d bring them home and dip them in a pot of hot wax so they’d remain lovely throughout a winter, maybe for years. Then I remembered that today she’d probably not see the red leaves I’d gather.

This is really, really hard.