My fingernails scrape the crusty places of “milk soaked Rice Krispies met desert air” off the high chair. I wipe small fingerprints from glass and sticky apple juice splats from the floor. Laundry and weekend memories are each sorted in a kind of healing process. Today I “pick up”. And as I do, I slowly become whole again.
They are off to the Grand Canyon while we embrace the canyon within us since they left. There are no more busy little friends clinging to us one moment and the next leading chase. They have departed with their brief hours of sleep, the ones we all had longed for more of and left us longing for something else - the more of "them". Bedtime kisses and night time prayers have come to an end. No pictures of sunflowers or “sit by ME Popi” or childish delight ringing in our ears. The dogs have stopped barking and I no longer have to steal precious moments behind a bathroom door to renew. Because gone are the wide toothless grins and sound of bare feet down our hallways. There is instead a deafening silence.
But how can I feel empty when I am so full? Full of such joy, laughter and thanksgiving. This family may be gone now but I watched him – this son of ours - who bears such a beautiful tension of tenderness and strength. I saw him lead his precious family - touching, instructing and shaping. And this mother smiled. For it is as it should be.
Tomorrow morning we will awaken not to a 2 year old sweetie or a 5 year old bright eyed beauty but an alarm clock. We will go to our respective jobs and try to return to whatever that normal was before the little ones came and sprinkled love all over us. The house will be cleaned but never made devoid of the life that passed through its doors. And if the Lord allows it, we will replay today’s scenario another day in the future. And be so very grateful.