I thought of that moment a lot. I thought about it through the flat, exhausted evenings of the winter months. I thought about it in the early hours of March mornings, when the world seemed intend of waking me in good time to watch the light change. I thought about it in April, in Athens, as I looked down on the city where a hundred bells called out ‘Good Friday’ and the night fell. I thought about it in May, on a train that inched its way up the Devon coastline, where I sat and wondered whether my life had indeed changed in the span of a few hours, just as I thought it had. I thought about it in June during the dreamy, sad weekend that followed a conversation that set my world spinning in the right orbit once again. And I thought about it today, at lunchtime, on the first hot afternoon of July.
Today was the next-to-last day of term, the term whose end I have longed for, despite the fact that I am not half as stressed, or as exhausted, as I was at this time last year. I mentally checked my list of things to do and sighed, waiting for the slow, idle mornings and the empty afternoons, for the freedom of summer. I made plans — I’ll cook more; post on the blog every day; visit places. I counted the days down, in the mornings and in the evenings too. But this lunchtime, with one-and-a-half day to go, with most things on my list accomplished, with freedom within reach — something happened.
I looked up from my lunch. The children were spread out on the floor, quietly playing with blocks or reading to themselves, as they always are at this time of day. The the class assistant was glueing a bit of fabric to a book cover. Through the wall, I could hear the teacher of the class next door read a story to his children. And it’s hard to describe what it was, but I’ll say that there was so much love in it all — in the way the children were absorbed in their tasks; in their respect for me, which kept them quiet; in the way they were comfortable around each other; in the fact that Laura was working through lunchtime to finish an important end-of-the-year project; in Adam’s voice — that I felt a pang of longing for what I had right then and there, for what we have created, for what I am about to temporarily lose.