When I lived in Washington I’d drive my 2 year old to a day care four towns away in the morning. There was a freeway but usually I took the back roads through semi-rural properties in suburban Douglas Fir greenbelts and being Washington, usually it was wet and gray.
Sometimes I’d stop at Starbucks and get coffee and oatmeal, and give the raisins to my daughter, reaching back while driving to place them in her outstretched hand. On certain days I stopped the forward motion of our routine for no reason and pulled into the roundabout parking lot of a nearby cemetery.
From the road you’d see a few well-placed graves continually refreshed with seasonal mementos, pinwheels, flowers, balloons. The grave closest to the corner was white stone with a handprint and for maybe a year or more I thought it was the grave of a child, until once I went for a walk there and read it up close: Jill Evans, Beloved Mother, Daughter, Wife. In her living years perhaps she did daily laps like mine, transporting children to their social stations, each member of the family going to their separate classroom or workplace by the appointed hours. Each morning my intuition tries to get a word in about this routine, but it’s a tide, and I’m swept in it.
My daughter eats her raisins without comment and looks serenely out the windows as I start the car again, she takes in the graves and the douglas firs matter of factly, her round face is crushing to my heart as I catch sight of it in the mirror while turning onto the road. Today she’ll sing songs and turn pages of some beat-up board books, and walk outside in the play yard wood chips in the misty rain with her fleece sweatshirt while I walk hurriedly from meeting room to meeting room.