Hanging laundry

Dear Meg,

      Did you smell it? That first night in your new dorm room, when you got into the bed and pulled the sheets up around you, did you smell the sunshine? It's just a small thing, but I've been longing to know, kind of like when you send someone a present and wish you were there to see them open it. Maybe it only lasted a second, that smell of fresh air. But it's a strand of warmth and light from our backyard reaching into the ­strange building you now live in; a thread of connection from my seemingly simple life at home to the great expansion of yours at college.
     When you and Andrew and Anna got home from camp late this summer, you dumped out your duffel bags on the back deck and I did all those loads and loads of laundry. The weather was perfect for hanging it out to dry. I love hanging laundry: the slowness of it; the sunshine; hearing the birds and the late summer “ch-ch” of the insects; watching the wind become visible in the ripple of the sheets; feeling the coarseness of the towels. Hanging laundry is an act of optimism. And it's sensual.
     By the time the last loads were folded, we were already getting you packed to leave again. We bought those rough, not-too-expensive sheets in Twin Extra Long for your dorm bed, and two new bath towels. I didn't want them to be strangers. So in the last couple of days that you were home, I washed them too, and hung them out to dry. I have a picture in my mind, Meg, of looking up at my hands pinning them to the line and the bluebird sky beyond. At that moment, it was as if time and distance stretched, and I sensed you climbing into your new dorm bed and smelling the sunshine.

      It's ok if you didn't smell it. Really, this is my story. Hanging the laundry that day, I was happy and I was connected to you. Like tucking a note in your lunchbox, it's my act of giving that is the love. That love is still in there, whether you actually smelled it or not. It doesn't need confirmation. It just is.
     You go, girl. Be brave in your new world. And when you come home, there will be fresh clean sheets on your bed.

Love,  Mom