Best-Laid Plans

My daughter wakes with a fever, and so we leave her uncle’s house. No skiing on this sunny day. We head back that familiar way, through the White Mountains dazzling beneath fresh snow, the way we’ve traveled so many times, through so many years.

She’s sleeping and not sleeping, the roads nearly empty on this early Monday morning. I’ve switched the radio to Maine public radio, a steady stream of coronavirus news.

What she has is fever — miserable and simple. She’ll ache, sleep, and heal. As I drive, and the radio moves through the BBC broadcast, I remember myself as a teenager listening to Terry Gross while my father drove us home from the dentist’s office. At some undefined point, Terry Gross morphed from the most boring person in the universe to a woman who asked questions whose answers I wanted to know.

Maybe it’s nothing more than my sleeping teenager beside me not quite legally ready to drive yet — or maybe it’s just the driving time to think — but I feel utterly a parent. It’s not a cherished, dear moment (she really wanted to stay and ski) but our lives will move on. For these few hours of driving, we’re in an unbroken space. Nothing to do but keep on….

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