Colin moved out a week ago today.
The physical space was filled in more quickly than I had anticipated. A friend came down to spend the night with me after he left, and when we woke up the next morning, she did the best possible thing she could: she helped me put my house back together. The empty spaces on the walls were taken up by the art that used to hang in my classroom, which I had coincidentally moved out of just that week. We rearranged furniture and threw out a surprisingly large amount of trash, and in a very short amount of time, the house felt enough like mine that my breath didn't catch every time I turned a corner.
The emotional spaces are harder to fill.
Having spent the last two and a half months on the rack, my own emotional state is somewhat more stable than might be expected. But Joley - my bright, energetic, constantly talkingmovingdancing child - has turned into a small ghost, all big eyes and lips and cheeks that have become soft pillows of grief. When she talks, she talks of him. She eats next to nothing, complaining of the same stomach ache that started the day he left, turning down even her favorite foods. She curls up to sleep in strange places at odd hours, but no matter how much she sleeps the circles under her eyes stay deep. She hears noises in the kitchen and thinks Colin has come home. She asks questions that I can't even begin to answer, and comes out of nowhere to cling to my leg as though afraid I, too, am going to disappear into thin air.
Her suffering is more acute and immediate than my own, and I seem to be completely powerless to abate the flood of it. Children need time and contact and love, and no matter how much time and love I give her, or how many times I tell her Colin loves her and will see her soon, it does nothing at all to ease the pain of the sudden empty space in her small life.