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Stay With Me

posted Saturday May 24th, 2008

My heart is broken — again.

I should have learned, by now, that young love never lasts. She always leaves.

This time it’s Jeanine. After two years of nannying for Sophie (and sometimes Annabelle) she’s graduated from college, and off to grad school in California. We wished her well with gift cards from IKEA and Anthropologie, and I relived (again) the mixed emotions that come with finding that first apartment that’s really your own (and losing it to stupid lease rules, only to find a better one days later) and packing to move away.

We hired Jeanine on the spot because she volunteered at Phoenix Childrens Hospital and her dad ran the DEA for a big hunk of the country. She talked a lot, at the beginning, about church. That was cool with me — not my bag personally, but religion (to a point, at least) can only be a good thing in the person who watches your kid.

(In fact, I wish Jeanine was here right now, in my sister’s basement in Denver. Sophie just handed me my bra and a shirt and she’s on her way now, I see, with the rest of the contents of our suitcase; she wants me to get off the computer and get dressed. I understand. She’s excited to be visiting her cousins. Hope you’ll understand the thusly disjointed nature of this post.)

Back to Jeanine. By the time she left us, yesterday, she hadn’t mentioned church in months (for all I know she still goes, but picked up on the decidedly anti-organized tone around our fallen Jew/fallen Catholic house) and she was dating her one-time anatomy T.A., who sports long blonde hair and a snake collection. (He studies pythons, I believe, and his collection includes one formerly named #27. Jeanine renamed her Nina, she told me.)

As I wiped the tears away (more tears, but I promise, it’s been a particularly wet week) and got in the car to leave for the airport, I remembered that it took a while for us to get used to Jeanine and, I’m sure, vice versa. I’m sure we’ll love her replacements.

But I’ll never forget Jeanine — how she showed up to Sophie’s heart surgery with homemade muffins, how she chased Sophie through Target, teaching her to “Stay With Me” and how she risked being ostracized by insisting “No Thumbs”! every time, when Sophie’s mom was being, well, a bit of a pushover.

Sophie doesn’t understand that yesterday was the last day she’ll see “Nean” (a few weeks ago, she finally mastered her name, but I’ll always think of Jeanine as Nean) but I know that by next week, she’ll be asking for her.

“I am sad,” Sophie’ll say, standing up in her crib, running each index finger down from an eye, a holdover from the sign language she’s pretty much ditch. (Something that must have driven Jeanine crazy — that my 5 year old is STILL in a crib — but, one more thing I love about her, she never said a word.) “Where is Nean?”

I have to figure out what to say. I wish I’d asked Jeanine’s advice, before she left.

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