CLS Sandoval

The Day I Returned 

Maternity leave was over. Crying that morning made it difficult to apply my eye makeup; the mascara was starting to run before I had gotten each lash coated in black. My suit and nylons felt wrong. I got the baby dressed and ready. Thankfully, a friend who I knew and trusted would pick the baby up and keep her for the three days a week I had to be on campus to keep us fed. As I handed Evelyn to Nicole, she wailed. My baby was accustomed to spending the day with me: going to Mommy and Me work out and Spanish classes, leisurely lunches at the park or a restaurant, and every bottle, diaper, and hug from me. That first day back, I wasn’t wearing any of my signature piercings in anticipation of the two surgeries I had ahead of me in the next two weeks. Finally all four wisdom teeth would be removed, then, all of the polyps coating my uterus would be removed as well. The doctors taking me piece by piece. The stress of a new baby, a full-time job, and his passion for art and music left my husband more distant than he had ever been.  He spent far more time in his office than with the baby and me; he always seemed to have a new project, more time consuming than the last.  So my mom would join us for both surgeries – tending to the baby and to me. These thoughts crowded my head as I click-clacked my heels into that familiar basement classroom. As much as I missed my baby and tending to my home, muscle memory got me through that first day back in my Fundamentals of Communication class. In that moment, I did not know my day of return to work would completely change our lives’ trajectory.

He sat in the back
Student. Thirty. Off-limits
My future husband 

When We Took Grandma Out 

Grandma was never in her room 

Circling the nursing home 

Certain she would find Grandpa 

Nana, Mom, and I would eventually find her 

And we learned to stop reminding her that  

Her husband had died 

We brought Mom’s lavender BMW 

The convertible that she leased 

So that Nana could drive the pink Cadillac 

After she handed down her burgundy Grand AM to me 

We would convince Grandma  

We wouldn’t be gone long 

She thought Grandpa was at the store 

We would tell her that we would be back before him 

It wasn’t really a lie 

If it was 

It was only to save her grieving once again over his death 

She always sat in the front seat 

Wind in her hair 

As we drove to go eat at the Poseidon in Del Mar 

She giggled, forgetting the only thing she was good at remembering—her worries 

And she remembered her purse 

She clutched that boxy, leather, camel colored bag for dear life 

It only contained a used tissue, her glasses, and a picture of Grandpa 

At least throughout lunch on the beach patio 

Sea breeze in her hair 

Sun kissing her face 

No recent memories weighed on her 

She would happily tell us how much she loved  

     her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter 

            as we sat with her, our faces only vaguely recognizable 

                 depending on the moment 

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