As always, I asked the kids to pick out one story before tucking them in for nap. Or "rest" as it is now dubbed because Grayson does not sleep but instead launches question after question about life, physics, religion, and ear wax until I beg him to hush please honey just stop making me think for the love of God thank you pleeeaaasseee don't talk just play with your cowboy and horse for five minutes please baby thank you.
Back to pre-nap story. They selected, agreed upon and sat motionless for "Franklin Has a Bad Day." Obviously, things weren't going well for Franklin (the cutest turtle ever drawn). He starts off on page one very grouchy. I hear ya, Buddy. He is not so nice to his friends, Bear and Beaver. Yep, sounds about right. Franklin melts down about a game or a picture or the clandestine crowd at the DMV, I can't recall but the point is the tantrum and the fact that it could've been for any reason whatsoever. Exactly, dude. Wanna share a pint? Then Franklin's dad comes in, wraps a paternal turtle claw around his son and asks what's really going on. What's really the matter.
This is where I had to deliberately set my jaw, swallow hard and continue reading. I have read this book a thousand times and yet at that moment it felt like those familiar words were hitting me square in the chest.
"Otter moved away." The truth shoots out like a cannon in the sky.
"And you miss her?" Dads always know that simple is best.
And this is where I had to physically set down the book, cover my face and not show my four and two year old that Mommy is the hormonal equivalent of Mount St. Helens.
"Mommy, are you crying?" Grayson asks nervously.
After some consideration of lying and getting caught red-handed I reconsider and come clean with him because the tears won't stop falling down my face. "Yes I am, Honey."
"It's okay, Mommy," Grayson reasons, "Franklin can still see Otter. He can go visit her!"
"You're right, Franklin can still go visit Otter. It's just that he really misses her already and she just left. I just feel..." sniff sniff, hands to face...." so sorry for Franklin," sniff, sniff, covering eyes, "and I am sad too because," my own truth washes over me like a frosty bath, "my friend is moving away also."
"Miss Kathleen, Baby. She has to move away and Mommy's really sad. Kind of silly to be this sad because we don't get to see each other a lot but I already miss her so much."
"It's okay, Mommy. We will just drive to her new house when Daddy gets home and see her again. Don't cry, Mommy."
But I did. I cried like a dejected mopey turtle for much longer than I should have in front of my little turtlettes. It's just that right then I had to face the fact that my Otter is leaving soon too.
We just got back together and now she is the one who has to go.
A couple of weeks before she found out her husband got that job that would require them to relocate out of state, I had a dream she was moving. I was angry with her in my dream because she only gave me a few days' notice (in my dream, not real life...in real life she knows I need more than a few days to process high impact news) and I felt hurt that we couldn't say a proper goodbye. Then, two weeks later I saw a status on her husband's Facebook (in real life, not in my dream...in my dream i don't check Facebook) that they were indeed moving away.
Thirty some odd years we've known each other and the connection we have is so strong I can honestly say it was friend ESP. Something inside me had a feeling her life was about to change drastically and that same something was trying to break the news to me gently, in my soft spot, in my sleep.
We have since seen each other and every time we're together I am reminded of what it must be like to have a sister. She is the kind of funny that makes my shoulders drop for the first time in days and causes that embarrassing snort breathe thing to happen when we're laughing. She is the kind of beautiful that is distracting when her shiny blond hair curls around her face as she talks. She is the kind of amazing mother to whom I ask lots of annoyingly specific questions and then follow accordingly when it comes time to mother my own. She is the kind of friend who stays out until midnight to hang out in my living room reliving old high school memories with me (just last week!) even though she has three young children of her own to wake up to by 6am. She is the sole reason I survived the high school experience. Seriously, I would still be hiding in the girls' bathroom if it weren't for her pulling me out. She is the reason I was so excited to move to Virginia in the first place.
She is my Otter and only Otter and I am so sad she has to go. Sad for me but happy and excited for her to start this new chapter with her family.
And Grayson is right, we will visit her when Daddy gets home, however many times she can handle us.
After all, turtles like me don't come across Otters like her more than once in a lifetime and I'd be a fool to let her go that easily.