The question feels like a punch to her gut. She sets the turkey pan on the granite counter. "I don't know for sure what happened. He hasn't called or written. I haven't heard one word. That's all I know."
"But what if something happened to him? I mean, what if he got killed by a bus crossing the street?"
"Oh come on Jack. That's ridiculous. Someone would have called me."
Ronda closes her eyes. Slowly she draws air into her nose. "Look, Jack, it's over. Please, honey, you're sweet, but I've got to get used to the idea that I've lost him."
"Ma, look. You know how I felt about the guy. Not my favorite person. But..." he stares into his mother's face. "I can honestly say I never saw you so happy as those months you were with Jesús. I can't believe you wouldn't want to know for sure what happened."
She turns away in silence and unties her apron. Her eyes are flooded and a crush of pressure has closed her throat.
"Ma, look, I hated him at first, you know that. I mean he ruined our family." He turns his back on the sink, and stands there, his hands dripping soapsuds. "But then I finally accepted the fact that you and dad were over, were never ever going to work it out. And then I saw how happy you were."
She starts to cry into the dishtowel. Jack pulls her forward, hugs her. The smell of his shirt is sweet and clean. She feels his heart beating and cries even harder.
"So you'll come? If I can free up next weekend, you'll meet me there?"
Jack is staring at her, and she is trying not to return his look.
But now his bus is pulling up, and he's slinging the nylon strap of his duffel over his shoulder, and she is going to have to give him that final squeeze and hug and kiss. She is going to miss him so much, more than ever before, because now, at this moment in her curious history, he is the most important thing she has. He is the thing she can point to when she begins to wonder what her life adds up to. He is the one she can point to and say, I lived all those days as a wife and mother to produce him. This gem.
"Yes, Jack, I'll come. I promise. I'll have to find someplace to get my coffee, though. You know they don't let you have any caffeine at all in those places."
He laughs. "So you sneak out and go to this great little espresso place I know in Lenox. People do it all the time there. Anyway, I'll call you later and we can figure out the rest of it."
He hugs her, and she grabs onto him fiercely and thankfully, he doesn't pull away until she lets go.
"So what's the name of the place again? Shitaloo? Is that it?"
He cracks up. "Sihtalu, Ma. SIT-A-LOO. But call it what you want. All you have to do is show up. Show up and do yoga."
"OK, honey." She nods and reaches up to touch his face. "God you're tall." She turns to leave. Then turns back. "And handsome. Did I tell you how handsome you are?" The castanets dangling from her key chain clatter in her hand.
"Yes, Mom. You tell me all the time. Ma, remember," he says, mounting the first step on the Greyhound bus, "remember to wear something white to do the yoga."
She nods and waves and steps back. He disappears into the bus.
"White," she whispers. "Yeah, well, Jack. Let the rest of them wear white. I think maybe I'll be wearing purple."
She watches him take a seat, and seconds later, the bus carrying the dearest thing in her life disappears.
READ THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF SEEING RED on Thursday, March 15, 2011. For all previous chapters, go to SeeingRedHuffPost.
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