It was past midnight, the first hours of the new year, 2020. We celebrated earlier; me, my daughter, and her boyfriend of over a year. We had been nestling in a rental home in the village of Telluride, Colorado, after a week of skiing, dining, and hunkering against the week’s heavy snow. The rest of the family—my son, my daughter-in-law, and my ex-husband—had already left for New York to celebrate the new year back home.
The three of us had made homemade pizza, finished a leftover bottle of red wine, and bent over a complicated puzzle we wanted to finish before leaving January 2—me to New York, them to Los Angles. It was pitch black outside with only the glow of the Christmas lights on the neighbors trees lighting up the falling snow like a tumbling rainbow. Most of the lights in the house were off except the one over the kitchen island, spotlighting the puzzle. The fire in the large fireplace in the great room, open to the kitchen, roared.
They made themselves cups of herbal tea, plopped themselves in front the fire, sitting crosslegged, facing each other. Their knees just touching, they sipped their hot teas, talking quietly.
I tried to keep my eyes on the puzzle but I couldn’t help observing my daughter—now a young woman—gaze at her lover. People say she looks like me with her turned up nose and heart-shaped face, but her coloring is all her dad’s side of the family: deep, deep auburn hair; creamy porcelain skin with a smattering of peachy freckles; and light colored eyes—one blue, one light brown. The soft light of the fire danced across her face, illuminating her happiness.
I looked away. They were right there, just on the other side of the couch, but I felt like a voyeur, peering at an intimate moment not meant for me to see.
They sipped and spoke quietly. I couldn’t hear them. I was sure they were sharing inside jokes I wouldn’t understand anyway. She threw her head back in a throaty laugh, so different from her first giggles when we’d tickle her baby belly. She always laughed easily, happiest when she was carried around in my arms or in a back carrier so she could see everything I was doing.
“I found the piece we were looking for, the one in the middle of the blue flower,” I said out loud, feeling the satisfaction of finding that elusive piece.
“Where was it?” She asked.
“Right here in front of me. I thought it would be blue but it turned out to be black,” I replied.
“Is it done?” She asked.
She turned back to her boyfriend, sipping her tea.
She’s now the age I was when I was engaged to her dad. And her boyfriend is the age I was when I gave birth to her older brother. How is it that I was an adult at those ages, but these two were just kids?
He got up to bring their empty mugs to the kitchen, loading them in the dishwasher. ‘He’s a keeper,’ I thought.
“Can I make you a cup of tea?” He asked me, looking over the nearly complete puzzle.
“No thanks,” I said. “I still have some wine left.” I was so close to finishing the puzzle, to step away now would be like leaving before the movie was over.
She joined us, the three of us plugging the last dozen pieces in. He crawled on the floor looking for a piece that seemed to be missing, stood up, placed it, and we were done.
We took a few pictures to send to the rest of the family, decided to leave it there for the morning, and gathered shoes and phones to head to bed.
“Good night,” I said to their retreating backs.
“Good night,” they said back in unison—her arm around his waist, his over her shoulder—leaving me to turn out the lights.