A cold wind swept through the house recently, leaving only the debris of childhood behind. The air is stale, the carpet is stained, and scratches on the wall only tell part of the story. The left behind desk still holds broken crayons and colored pencils. The dresser was too big for the apartment, so it stayed. There are prom dresses hanging in the closet, along with the box full of camp t-shirts from elementary school. There are bits and pieces of her life, but nothing of substance. In the weeks, since she left, I have just ignored it. But in the quiet, I feel it.
The first time the kids left home it was traumatic. Allie moved her bed to her first apartment. Brian bought a house and moved everything out in an afternoon. Steph moved to a college dorm room. Within six weeks they were all gone. In the aftermath of that move, I felt like I could still hear the walls ringing from the life we’d shared. It hurt, like a crushing pain that I could not express. I refused to sit at the dining room table unless everyone was home. We changed routines. I sat in empty rooms, and I breathed in the silence. Slowly, I regained a new normal, and we moved on.
In the aftermath of this more recent departure, the sadness is tempered by such gratitude. I am so thankful that we have had this life together. I am grateful for all of it, the laughter and the tears, the ordinary days that blur into the background and the sharp ones that break through in memory. I am grateful for the quirky things that come from being family.
Eating apples with a spoon
Waving our fingers at you
Vacationing in the rain
Kittens and the rabbit and the guinea pigs
Paintball splotches that outlasted their childhoods
Marker lines on the closet door
How we didn’t loose a tent post on that crazy night in July
Road trips and Oregon summers
Magical bedroom makeovers
Camping at Wakeda
Neighbor kids that became family
How Thursdays Nights were the best night of the week
Living without doors
Sharing holidays and traditions with the Lyons
Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and Narnia
Wednesday afternoons at the Library
Church every week and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the way
The smell of lilacs
The trips to the ER
There are a million moments I could identify that make up a childhood and a family. We have fought hard and said awful things to each other. We have seen the best and worst of each other. We have lived through tragedy and faced true adversity. We have backed up the car and started over more times than I could count. And we aren’t done yet. Although they have packed away their childhood and moved into a new season of life. We are still family. And we have the chance to continue to grow both together and apart. A few years ago, when they moved out in a rush, I feared that they would not return. I feared it would end and I would be left without them. Now, I trust their friendship and the life we’ve shared. The emptiness now overflows with thanksgiving. I am truly blessed.
What are the moments you are most grateful for?