Heart Moves

By Terri Tiffany

Heart Moves

May 13th. Was it Saturday already? A menagerie of voices from the kitchen drifted through my closed bedroom door. Today my only child, Shelly, would marry a boy she met a year ago. For months, we’d prepared everything to the minutest detail: the cake, the dresses, the music. All that remained were the ceremony and the goodbyes.

I rolled over, shutting my eyes one more time. Another move. I wasn’t sure my heart could take it.

Hours later with my husband at my side, we stood before Shelly in the bridal room at the church. “You look beautiful,” I said, blinking fast. “No crying, okay? Your makeup is perfect, and we want your pictures perfect, too.”

Shelly choked back a sob and leaned in for a tight hug. How could I let her go? I remembered the day her future fiancé flew in to surprise her. We’d driven him to another airport where Shelly was returning from a two-week European trip. Later that night, she entered my darkened bedroom, kneeling by my side with a whisper. “He proposed, Mom. I’m getting married.”

The hope every parent dreams for their daughter: a good man, love. But I remembered the consequences to my own life.

After patting her veil, I gave her one final hug and left them to take my place in the front pew along with our other hundred guests. I glanced over my shoulder toward my best friend. She mouthed me encouraging words. Her son’s wedding was scheduled for the following month. How many hours had we burned up on the phone sharing our concerns and excitement? Not enough.

The traditional wedding march began, tugging me back to the present. I rose, biting back the salty tears that stung my throat. Although we had prepared physically for this day, we had left the emotional packing for last.

My daughter would move to Seattle today. Mother’s Day weekend. Our home here in Florida could not be further away. I studied her husband-to-be as he stood at the altar, his eyes shining, his promise to me fresh on my mind. “I’ll bring her back once I finish college. This move is temporary.” I’d smiled and agreed with him, but I understood moves more than most people.

Curt, my husband of thirty years, had moved us seven times. When I kissed my parents on my wedding day, we had already planned our first move. Two weeks after our honeymoon, we drove our packed U-Haul from Pennsylvania to Virginia. “We’ll be back, Mom,” I had promised. “After Curt gets out of the military.”

I had meant to keep our promise but life hadn’t let me.

The moments ticked by as we played our roles on my daughter’s special day. “It’s time. They’re ready to go.” I looked past my husband to find my daughter saying her goodbyes at the reception. Her new husband waited nearby with the keys to the rented convertible on one finger. I pressed my hand to my mouth, swallowed. I could do this. I had to do this. A mother had only so many acts she needed to perform well. Today was one of those times.

Curt gathered my hand in his as we walked together outside. Our friends and family followed our lead, throwing birdseed at the young couple. Shelly, still dressed in her gown, wore an eager smile as her husband parked the rental car on the road in front of the rustic lodge we had selected as the venue.

Is that how young I looked when I left my parents?

I sought out my best friend once more. She knew what was coming and rushed over to hug me. Why had this day flown by so fast? Couldn’t I do a rewind? My thoughts flashed five years ahead, ten years…when grandchildren would hardly know us. Holidays spent alone. Empty bedrooms. Why did we send her to that college? Why did we move away from our small town in Pennsylvania when we first married? She would have met a boy there, moved two miles from us and we would be talking about me helping put away her wedding gifts instead of loading them onto a U-Haul for her in-laws to cart across the country.

What did our first move start?

My husband reached her first. Then it was my turn. She ran into my arms as I did hers. We held each other, her promising me everything a daughter does – phone calls, safety, and that we would see each other again soon. Me promising her that her life would be fantastic.

And then they left.

An hour later, we stepped into our garage. Mountains of packed boxes waited. Tomorrow her belongings would start their long trek across the country. I ran my fingers over the stand we’d given her one Christmas for her stereo. The quilt rack her grandfather made to hold the many quilts she’d sewn as a girl. The dresser she’d purchased with her own money to decorate in her new home.

Another move. This time my daughter’s move.

I opened the door to her bathroom, surveyed the empty counters. Took a deep breath.

But this was my move too. A piece of my heart had moved across the country but the other piece belonged here in my home with my husband. A new move for both of us into a new category of life.

The following week Curt asked me where we should travel now that we were officially empty nesters. I looked up from my computer. “How much time can you get off for Christmas? I hear Seattle is pretty that time of year.”

He tipped his head toward the keyboard. “Tell her I hear they have good coffee there. I’m looking forward to buying her a cup.”

About this writer

  • Terri TiffanyTerri Tiffany has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Hallmark. Her first novel, The Mulligan, was published in 2015 by Pelican Book Group.

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One Response to “Heart Moves”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Tiffany this story was a heart tug to which every mother can relate. Very enjoyable read.

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