On her dresser, beside her bed, Sophia keeps a little plastic pot, the kind you might find lip balm in. What she keeps in it, though, is a piece of chewed gum. Gross, I know, but it's the last thing Tre gave her before we drove away and left him in Arizona. She sobbed for miles, and when we stopped for lunch, she soberly handed me her slimy wad of gum and asked me to find a safe place to keep it, because she was going to save it FOREVER.
And so there it sits, on her dresser, and I know that's weird and wrong, but you know what's really weird and wrong? Having a member of your family peel away and live somewhere else. I know, I know, it's not "wrong," not actually. But it feels strange and lonely and stumbling sometimes, as we all try to figure out how we fit together now, with one of us gone. When Tre had been gone several weeks, we sat down one night to say evening prayers. The kids take their turns in order of age, starting with the oldest, and this night Max sat silent, waiting. Someone nudged him to go ahead, and he looked around, startled. "What? Where is Tre? Why isn't he here? I miss him!"
It was silly, because he'd been gone for weeks, but it was also so baldly true, the startled realization that nothing seemed in the right place somehow, that no one laughed.
This weekend, however, Tre came home. Just for a few days, but we are fizzy with joy over having him here. Sophia WILL NOT get out of his grill. I just now sent Max and Raphael up to their beds, even though they were supposed to be there an hour ago, because I could not bring myself to interrupt the way they hover around him. The comfortable bickering, the physical need to sit next to him and interrupt him as he tries to study. It's all so lovely and familiar and right.
Tuesday he goes home. Mom warned me the other day, that the first few years after your kids leave home, when they come back for a visit, the leaving hurts just as much as the first time. I'm not thinking about that right now.
Right now I'm just soaking it in, the content feeling that I can turn my phone off, all the way off, at night, because everyone is home. Tuesday is coming, but for now, we're all here.
And it's very good.