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This morning, after a deep sleep, I awoke at 7 to hear the sparrows singing in the ivy outside. From bed, I pushed back the curtain to watch them flitting from branch to branch, to see the sun rising, the tops of the trees. I am in my own bed, I keep repeating; those sparrows live in my garden. This is my house.

Downstairs to make coffee and breakfast in my own kitchen, as the sun streams in the back door. At the moment, with no tenant either above or below, all is quiet and solitary here. Still woozy with jet lag, I’ve managed to unpack the bags from France and begin to pay bills, make lists, get organised; my wonderful cleaning lady came yesterday and we got things shining and in order. When the phone rings, it’s for me. I know where things are; when I sat down on the sofa with the newspaper, my reading glasses were right where I’d left them five months ago. Every time I venture outside, someone stops me to say, “Welcome back!”
Bit by bit, I’ll begin to figure out what’s different. Food, for one thing: I made a pork roast yesterday, cooked some broccoli, sat down to a proper meal, which I certainly would not have done before France. There’s new confidence in my physical self, my clothes – not that I am wearing trendy French things, the opposite – what I learned there is that if your clothes make you feel good, if they’re more or less the right colour and cut for you, if you present yourself with ease and confidence, you’ll look good no matter what you actually put on your body. That’s new, too.
I’m appalled by the amount of stuff here, way, way too much of everything; my goal is to get rid of half of it. Perhaps having stuff around was a kind of security, like taking too much stuff to France – what if I need this? Don’t need it.
But mostly, right now, I appreciate every aspect of my life here, the simplest things – the CBC, which seems now to be entirely young men playing soft rock or folk; opening the front door to find the Star and the Globe; the streetcars, filthy as they are (are they not cleaned at night?); my street and neighbours, internet connection, telephone, shower – my own shower, with its notable absence of water pressure – just the same. The desk I’m writing on right now, with the morning sun pouring through the window, the flickering shadow of leaves on the computer keys. The weather has been a gift – perfect early fall days, sun with a hint of chill.
Most importantly, last night my son organised a celebration of his dead friend; they planted a tree in D.’s honour and gathered to toast him. In the middle, he called me to say how hard it has been for him recently; he was in shock for so long and now is truly feeling his friend’s death, the fact that they were asleep in the same room when D. died. He is in terrible pain, he called me, I answered. I am in the same town, at the end of the telephone line, able to say, I know how you must be feeling, I’m so sorry to hear that.
I love you very much, I said.
I love you too, he said. Talk to you tomorrow.
I will go away again and come back again. But of all the joys of my return, being close to my children is what matters most.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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