We reached Highway 27 as the sun hit its magic hour and there it was, that magnificent light at the end of Long Island. My husband and his uncle and the aunt and uncle’s two cats will always be here, bathed in that light.
Daughter and I made the trip out to East Hampton to scatter husband’s ashes at his aunt’s house. She and her husband built the house in the woods 40 years ago, before the Hamptons became the new money vomitorium it is today. All weekend, she shared stories about bringing in electricity when they were the only house on the road, about cycling home from the beach with a basket full of strawberries that popped out along the way, with the remaining berries turning into strawberry jam. She has sold the house. It is our last visit. The house required too much upkeep and the taxes are so high and we knew this was coming, but, oh, how heartbreaking it is. On Friday night, the estate sale guys came by to assess the place. Next weekend, the house will be opened up and everything will be picked over and bought. As the guys walked through the house, I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my body. How could we be sitting here on this lovely Friday night watching all this end? Makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop.
The loss. There is so much loss.
I took things, distinctive things so that we can keep a little bit of it to remember, to invoke a happy time. We stopped at the charming Wainscott postoffice to mail them back home. We had Dresser donuts on East Hampton’s main street. We spent an hour at the well-appointed Animal Rescue Foundation “socializing” the cats and dogs. We went to Bookhampton in Sag Harbor, just to browse, but when we walked out I insisted that daughter buy the book she was looking at. They gave her a charming bag and a coupon for 15% off when she comes in for the next book in the series. She won’t be back for the next book in the series. We stopped in the old Schiavone’s grocery store. I picked up a lime, because I saw a few bottles of gin on aunt’s shelf, and she needed to get rid of them, and were were going to need g & t’s. We came back to the house for leftover real Italian food from the night before. We mixed the g&t’s then. And then we went outside to leave husband’s ashes. We went to the place where he used to howl in the woods. Daughter broke down. I held her while aunt continued. Daughter couldn’t take it. Aunt left me to finish up in private. I sobbed underneath a white pine, then I just dumped out the rest. I left the ashes, and since my heart was ripped out already, I left that behind, too, in this place that has become a second home to me.
Daughter was trying to console herself with her math homework. “I want to go home,” she cried.
Home? To our sad remains of a life? So be it. I recovered what was left of my heart. We caught a flight out before the hurricane. I cried silently on the plane. Daughter leaned her head against me. When I didn’t stop crying, she clung to my arm. When I stopped, we smiled and she said she is happy to be going home.
I am bereft. I have lost so much, and I left it there. Those woods now contain the person I was, the live we lived together. It finally felt like the end of an era. I’m finally able to accept this loss as real. I can’t feel the comfort my daughter does, but my job now is to make sure she feels comfortable in this life. I’m hoping I catch up to her.