. . . and so, the last hug is given, the last “I love you!” and “Drive safely!” and “Hurry back!” said, and I watch the last car pull out of the driveway after a weekend that has been a mix of being so glad to have everyone home, but feeling even more keenly the one that is missing. The table is small again. It looks really strange to have it so small, because we’ve left it large after having company a few weeks ago, in anticipation of this weekend. I wanted to leave it big in the interim because it spoke of the hope I carried for this eagerly anticipated weekend.
It is incredibly quiet in the old farmhouse. The clocks are ticking their steady, almost subliminal noise, and I am thankful that there is no one to ask solicitous questions. Certain Man is in his recliner in another room, and Middle Daughter retreated to her room after helping to finish cleaning up the kitchen. She will probably grab a nap, too. She worked the night shift on Friday night, slept very little on Saturday, and then the time change shorted all our nights last night.
I sit here on my trusty chair, and the tears are too close for comfort. I keep thinking about the things that call our children away from us, and that makes leaving here actually mean “going home” to them; these adult children with all the things that life brings them, things that they’ve chosen to love and to embrace that beckons them down the road, away from their Daddy and me, to their own nests, their chosen vocations, their friends.
Raph and Gina received word yesterday of the sudden hospitalization back in Ohio, of Gina’s newest niece, Kate Aisha, following an episode of not breathing. Gina’s parents are in Florida, and I could tell that it really pulled for Gina to be home where she could help out if she was needed. As a family, we’ve followed the progress of this little mite of a baby who weighed in at 2 lbs., 13 oz. back on January 12th, and with this news, we all held our breaths a little until she was in the PICU at Cleveland and stable. But none of us felt it like Raph and Gina, because this family is also their family. Part of what calls them back to Holmes County. Part of what makes that little apartment in Millersburg, “HOME” for them. Gina’s family (that is truly Raph’s family as well) their jobs, their church, and their many friendships there. Would I want it any different? No. It would be terrible if my tallest son would dread going back. It is such a blessing to know that they are happy. But I hated to see them go. Hated to see this weekend come to an end.
It had been a while since we had seen Lem and Jessica, too. The last few months of their lives have been severely intense, and Lem is headed back to finish another nine days as an intake worker for an alcohol and drub rehabilitation facility in Philadelphia, then moves on to a job that he has wanted since the beginning of his journey, that of being a therapist. He wrestled and agonized and considered and finally made up his mind and came to peace with the changes it means for him and Jess. His eyes are alight with anticipation, and I am so thankful for the way God has answered some of our prayers in the lives of our children. I never prayed that Lem would be a therapist, but I often prayed for peace and for a good marriage and for direction and purpose and a vocation that would be a service to humanity. Mostly I prayed that He would know God and His will for his life. The thing is, all of those things are progressive things, and we never can say that it is a finished work, but when we can trace these things in their lives, and see that it is important to them, it is a miracle of no small proportions.
Tonight, my heart feels like it is headed in several different directions. One part went north, one went west, and one is with My Faraway Girlie, half a world away. It sometimes feel as if it will consume me, I miss them all so acutely. But the truth is that the biggest part of my heart is here. With Certain Man, our Middle Daughter, Oldest Daughter, Beloved Son in Law and our precious Love Bug. And My Sweet Mama. (Don’t forget My Sweet Mama!) I have so much right here to love, influence, and treasure. And the distance between me and the ones I love who are so far away in no way lessens my love for them, but it does lessen my daily responsibility towards them (except for the praying :}).
And God holds our children in HIS Hands. He loves them, He draws them into relationship with Himself. And when I see that He disciplines them, it comforts me, (even as their pain sits on my heart, and I wish that they wouldn’t need to learn the hard way) because I see their faith becoming truly their own. And that gives this Momma’s heart great joy.