"What color?" Johnny always asks. "We're on red," I'll say. "The red team, you pitch and I'll catch." Always, however, on nights when Johnny is with his father, we meet on the yellow rainbow, because as Johnny says, "Yellow is your favorite color, Mommy."
Eric puts his hand over mine. "The kids will be home tomorrow. They'll come home, and they'll all be fine." For a moment I am present, I see the man I adore, who does not tell me to get over it, to relax and enjoy myself.
In bed that night I think of the days when I was first separated and my ex-husband, Larry, came for his visitation, taking the children to the apartment he rented at the time. I remember Johnny, just a year old, crying in my arms as I handed him over. I watched Larry click Johnny and his two sisters into their car seats. They were so small-Sophia, my oldest, just 5. After they drove away in the red Jeep I stood where the car had been, my slippers covered with snow. When they were out of view I sat down on the icy driveway, until my neighbor Michelle came over and brought me back into the house.
The rest of the weekend passes. At 6pm Sunday night, the official drop-off time, the children crowd into the door. Johnny is smiling, his winter coat hanging below his knees. "Group hug!" Johnny says. The three children close their arms around me and slowly the pieces of me settle back together.
"How are my little love bugs? What did you do this weekend?" I ask, remembering how hard it was when Johnny was too young to even tell me how he spent his time with his father. "We went ice skating," he says, excited. "Daddy even skated!"
I wish I'd known, so I could have had a happy image in my head all weekend, my three children holding hands, slipping around the rink. I tell myself I'll try to do better when the children are away. They're okay, I think, at least for now, and because of that, so, I suppose, am I.