You would think it would be easier. After all, there have been lots of opportunity to practice saying good-bye to Youngest Daughter over the last few years. She went off to Europe, then to Thailand, then to Guatemala, then to Uganda, and in between all of those escapades, there have been trips and trips and trips — to college and to visit friends and to see brothers and to go to conferences and weddings and such.
She came home last Sunday afternoon. For some reason, she seemed inordinately glad to be home, and she meandered in and out of the house, washing dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning up the messes that were usually left for “later” and organizing what she didn’t know what to do with in little stacks of orderliness. She spent a day helping me with preparing for the upcoming tax filing, and filled the days with studying, coffee runs to Dolce’s, being Auntie to Charis, and just filling our lives with presence.
But Saturday morning, she packed up her bags and headed out. Overnight with Lem and Jess and then back to Ohio.
And this time it was harder again. I have never liked to say goodbye to any of my children, but with all this experience it would seem like it should get easier.
Oddly enough, it still feels hard. And today I feel sad and empty. I’d like to just sleep. But it’s a beautiful day, and a great day for washing sheets from the beds, catching up on laundry and doing all sorts of busy work while my thoughts tumble over each other in a strange, odd mix of ponderings.
“I’m coming home in three weeks, Mom,” she reminded me when I was protesting her going. “And I’m coming home for the summer!”
Both of these are gifts. Especially the summer business. She had planned to take a job in Columbus, live with some friends, and just not be home for another long, hot Delaware Summer. (Not that she minds the heat. She sometimes says that she hasn’t been warm clear through since she came home from Thailand.) She had warned us repeatedly last summer that it was probably her last summer home, like she needed to remind us. But then plans changed radically for her friends in Columbus, and it looked like nothing was working out for her. So she told Joe, the man for whom she has gardened four out of the last five years or so, that she would come back there on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and she told her cousin’s sweet wife that she would babysit their three children on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was interesting to this mama how relieved and happy she seemed when this was settled. It was even more interesting when things turned around in Columbus (and she could actually have lived there after all) to discover that she was entirely satisfied and even pleased that she was coming home. I tried not to be too obvious in my joy.
Just as I tried hard to hide my angst when she left this time. I really have no right to expect her to be around for ever. When I was her age, her Daddy and I had been married for over two and a half years, and I wasn’t exactly thinking about what my Mama and Daddy wanted or whether they missed me or not.
And now it is Monday morning. Weekend catch-up and laundry day for me. Certain Man is home today, working on Farm Things. He is getting hay out for his beef cattle, working on things in the chicken house, tilling the garden, and getting early things into the ground, moving dirt piles, and taking his mower in for its yearly servicing. We are putting in another manure shed, and there are preliminary preparations that he wants done today.
I watch him walk across the yard and my heart hurts. A month from today, Certain Man gets a new left knee. I watch this strong man, who holds my heart in those capable hands, as he walks with an almost stumbling limp when he thinks no one is watching. When he thinks people are watching, he sets that jaw and tries hard to not let on that the pain is almost more than he can stand. He hates to have this surgery done, but now that it is this close, I think that both of us just wish it were over. I pray that it is every bit as positive an experience as I have had. It seems unreal that my second total knee replacement was three years ago today. I have never wished for a minute that I wouldn’t have had it done. Even in the middle of therapy and rehab, I was just so glad! I still marvel at the gift I’ve been given.
And that is the news from Shady Acres, where Middle Daughter is reading to two little boys that she is watching for a few hours, the washer and dryer need changing and the telephone is ringing.
Happy Monday to all!