The sun climbs over my roof this morning, and under it my children are home.
Even the cat had been waiting expectantly for their return.
Home, a place to let down your guard, a place of rest, much needed after a season of change.
Just the other day my youngest, a freshman in college, called.
“Hi sweetie,” I answer, “how are you?”
It is the 14th week of her freshman year. She has been away from home for over three months now.
“Hi.” She has that voice, the one that I have, the one where everything is ok but it is not.
“I’ve been trying to call you.”
“I’m sorry sweetie, we’ve been out.”
We’d been away on an empty nest retreat to Pebble Beach for her dad to play in a golf tournament. His life’s work, golf. And I am grateful his life’s work brings us to this place of crashing waters that shift to cerulean to grey with the winds and the sun. He can play the game he loves and I can walk these shores I love where the rocks jut out of the seas and the sandpipers nip at the shores and dogs run unabashedly into the surf in complete freedom.
For the first time in months I felt that same freedom as I walk and reflect on the things I love and the ones I love and the salt air fills my lungs and the skies shift from grey to lavender to orange early in the morning and the surf sounds calls me to walk and think and pray along its edges during this season of shift and change of all things familiar.
This was a gift of a week alone, in this new season of being alone.
A gift of a week before the kids come home.
A gift to reflect and pause and be thankful.
Lauren whispers into the phone,
“I just want to be home.”
“Only two more days,” I tell her.
“I just want to be home now,” she tells me.
Her voice breaks. I ask her to face time so I can see her face to face. She says no mom I don’t want you to see my face right now.
And I hear the sobs in her voice.
I want to fix it. What do you want I ask.
I want you to pick me up and take me to dinner with you and dad.
All of me wants to find a flight right now that will take me to where she is thousands of miles away to pick her up for dinner.
She’s alone tonight. All her friends are gone, a lot of them home already.
My little girl just wants to go home.
Depending on whose voice, that statement means different things at different times.
It used to frustrate me at times when my mom, in her Alzheimer’s state of mind, used to say, “I want to go home.” She had a place under our very roof, and I used to wonder “what else can we do for her?” until my caregiving counselor explained to me that when she asks to go home, she is looking for her place of safety and refuge.
Later she used to say, I want to go home, and playing along with her, I would ask, where is home?
She would smile, and point her finger up to heaven.
Yesterday during our visit at the place that is now her home, we sang songs from the sound of music, her favorite. We both laughed out loud when we sang together “so long, farewell” and in her raspy voice, weakened by a recent stroke, she sang out “Goodbye, Goodbye!” so loud it startled even herself!
When I kissed her on the forehead to say good bye, she asked me, “Where are you going? Where is your home? I don’t remember.”
Tomorrow I will try to find a good place for her to sit at home comfortably at the table in her wheelchair.
Tomorrow we will gather all together. At home.
Around extended tables will be our children and our friends who have gathered around the Thanksgiving table with us over the past 20+ years, friends who at that time were far away from home and were making a new one.
And for the first time my son will gather around the table with his new wife and her parents, as the circle extends out concentrically of starting a home.