Leah Mueller

Letting Go

When I was four,
my mother told me
that my best friend Alison
and her family
were moving to Hawaii.

Alison had a sister named Beth
and an exotic mom
who played bongo drums.

They would live on the beach,
and swim in the ocean
all year round,

instead of three months
in Lake Michigan, and they
had no immediate plans
to return to Chicago.

My mother explained
that Hawaii was a long way
from Chicago, and visiting
would be impossible,

perhaps we could go someday,
but it wasn’t very likely.

I nodded with understanding,
and we went to their apartment
to say goodbye.

My friend Alison was
excited to be moving,
she hugged me and screamed
and jumped up and down.

She was a great friend
because both of us would
always want to play “house”

and we had this routine
where she would say,
“I want to be the mommy!”
and I would say in reply,

“But I want to be the mommy!”
and then we’d both shriek,
“Let’s BOTH be mommies!”
and we’d get down to it.

After visiting Alison
for the last time,
I went home and
didn’t feel much of anything.

The next morning
I got up and said,
“Let’s go to Alison’s house”

and my mom
shook her head,
told me we couldn’t,
because Alison was
too far away.

It took me a while
to get it, but when I did,
I got sick with
such a high fever

that blood poured
from my left ear,
and the doctor recommended

Lacking money for the bill,
my mother took me aside
and said she
knew why I was sick;

my friend was gone,
but getting sick
wouldn’t bring her back.

This made sense,
and eventually I got better,
but I’ve never done well
with transitions.