bookmark_borderThe first night away from my children.

We had made it 550 miles towards our destination, we were exhausted, and it was my first night away from my children. I almost turned around and drove back home.

The day had gone really well. We left two hours later than I’d planned, but it was just as well because I had more time to hug and say goodbye. My son’s sleep has been incredibly erratic and he had been awake since 3:30 that morning. I was tired, too, and we took things slowly as we got ready to leave.

The drive had gone smoothly. As soon as we got through the first mountain pass, the wildfire smoke that has been plaguing the west started to thin. My son wanted to stop for lunch at Red Robin. I had hoped for something a little faster, but it was nice to be out of the car, too.

We made it to our first hotel and my phone rang for a video call from one of my kids at home. I answered to see my youngest, only in kindergarten, sobbing hysterically. It was bedtime. Through the sobs, I could barely make out, “Mommy, when are you coming home? Are you coming home soon?”

I had tried to prepare her as best I could. I couldn’t make a calendar or count down to when I’d be home. I don’t know when I’ll be home. My teen’s program could be as short as 6 weeks or as long as 12 weeks. But I immediately started praying for 6 weeks to be effective.

I was overwhelmed with grief at being separated from my family. I didn’t know how I was going to make it for three months; it hadn’t even been 24 hours and I was falling apart. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this first night away from my children.

In the midst of those emotions, my brain automatically searches for reasons to be thankful. I thought of mothers who were in prison, who had to be separated from their children for years. Of mothers who had to travel for treatment of life-threatening illness, who had to, somehow, prepare their children for the possibility to grow up without their mother. And I thought of the three mothers I know that buried a child in 2020.

Yes, I would keep putting one foot in front of the other.

My sobbing baby was home with her daddy and siblings. My close friends all have plans to spend time with her, helping her feel special. She is and will be safe and loved.

I have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you, God.

The next day I had three phone calls with her, all without tears. She did ask if I was coming home soon. I wanted so badly to be able to say “Yes! Just a few more hours and I’ll be home!” Saying no, I won’t be home soon, made my stomach tighten into a knot.

Someday, there may be programs like there one we’re headed to in all towns and cities. Someday, this treatment may only be an hour away from our little mountain town. Some day, maybe a mother will be able to say, “Yes, sweetie, I’ll be home soon! I’ll see you tonight!”

bookmark_borderI love my home.

A distant mountain with a snowy peak is flanked by green mountains on either side.  A perfectly still lake acts as a mirror to the landscape and sky.  This is my Home.
Photo by Kevin Bidwell from Pexels

Home, for me, is more than a place. It’s even more than the people who fill it. Home eludes description.

Not every place I have lived has been Home. Some have been mere dwellings– filled with our possessions, filled with the people I love. I organized the possessions, I did all the necessaries, and I loved the people in those spaces. Those places were where we slept, ate, worked, laughed, fought, and cried. But they weren’t Home. Whenever we lived in one of those spaces, I had a visceral, constant ache for Home. It was subtle but it was ever present.

That feeling wasn’t unlike the feeling I had as a teenager, wondering who I would marry someday. Hoping I would meet him soon (and not scare him away). I always knew he was out there, somewhere, and that certainty kept me from settling for less than. Well, whenever we lived in mere dwellings, that’s the same sensation I had. Home was out there, somewhere. That ache that said, “Don’t settle for this.”

We’ve been married almost 24 years. We’ve lived in ten places. Only three of those ten places have been Home. When I think of the two Homes that have been left to our history, it is hard not to cry. It’s not unlike thinking of a loved one who has lived a good life and passed peacefully away. You know that your time with them is done, and that it was Good. Yet, you wish you could go back are re-live some of it, at least a little. You close your eyes and re-play the tape, in your mind.

Thankfully, where we live now is Absolute Home. We discovered it in 2013 and I cried the first time we came up the drive. We’re still here and, God willing, we’ll never leave.

Tomorrow morning I’m leaving it. I’m leaving Home. I’m leaving my husband, four of my children, my pets, my flowers, my garden, my messes, my routines, my favorite spots. I’m leaving dear friends. I’m leaving my early morning walks to the pond with my dogs. I’m leaving the sound of the trains and the crickets. I’m leaving the rustic nature of the most beautiful place on earth. It’s hard not to break down.

It’s entirely possible that the place we will stay for the next two months will be a Home. I picked it based on an inner resonance I had with the photos. I’m hoping that when we settle in, after the nervousness wears off, we’ll bond with it. Of course, that will mean a little pang when we leave. But the pang of parting will be worth it, to have a Home waiting for us at the end of what may be very exhausting days.

If it turns out that we just have a place to stay, that will be okay, too. It will keep us focused on the goal–returning Home with my teen who will be hopeful for his own future, ready with skills to meet each day.

Tomorrow is the day! The journey is starting.