"But can't you make it back for a few minutes before you head off again?" I begged. "It feels like ages since I've seen you. Is your hair still covering your eyes like a bad set of curtains?" I added, chuckling at the thought of him resembling an old English sheep dog.
I thought his hair looked nice when it was short, swept away from his face and parted to the right. I'd brush it over and he'd insist on shaking his head and messing it up on purpose, knowing how much it bothered me. I'd try again and he'd bat my hand away, a half-smile peeking out from his mouth.
"I just can't," he said. "Maybe next time, when there's less going on."
I could tell he wanted to get off the phone, but I didn't care. I tried to sound hopeful, not desperate.
"I remember when I wished for a break, for just a moment to breathe. Now I can't even imagine why I ever thought that. It was hard back then."
He cut me off. "It's okay. It's just how it goes."
So much for hopeful.
I didn't want to guilt him into coming. Part of me knew that if I pushed him too hard it wouldn't even be worth it. He'd just fly into the house and plop down on the couch, tapping his foot while he scanned his text messages and emails pretending to listen to me as I blathered on.
"Did you see the Jones' house is up for sale?" I'd ask him, hoping to make him look up from the bright shiny screen long enough so I could see his eyes.
"Yup," he'd say, sighing heavily as if I was paining him by breathing.
I'd scurry around, offering homemade muffins and lemonade, and he'd refuse, alternating stares between his watch and the door.
"I have to go now. I'm sorry. I'll be back in a couple of weeks. We'll catch up then. Don't worry."
He'd press on my hand as he stood up from the couch and I'd grab it with my other. I'd pull him for a hug and steal a look at his face, oddly unchanged after all these years. His deep brown eyes covered with soft blonde hair. His cheeks still round and rosy, now rough with a two-day-old stubble.
"I love you," I told him. "Come over when you can." I barely got that out before he ended the call, the beep saving him from my pathetic sobs.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed, nearly bouncing off the kitchen counter.
"i love u 2 mom" it said.