Two of my four kids are coming to see me today. One week out of fifty-two. This will be the first time they see me in my new home in Seattle (they have visited twice when I lived north of Seattle in a smaller city). This will be the first time they meet my new love. This will be the last time fifteen-year old Nathaniel sees me before he goes off to France to live for a year, likely returning forever changed by a year abroad. This will be the last time eleven-year old Serena sees me before she enters middle school, forever changed by growing up, puberty, and sixth grade dances.
Today is a flurry of laundry, cleaning, and making up two extra beds down in our client room. I have a list prepared of activities for the week ahead, including the zoo, seeing the Space Needle, a visit to Pike Place Market downtown (where they throw fish!), hanging at the beach, eating sushi, and some secret surprises involving boats, water, and picnics. Oh, and eating. And talking. And laughing. Lots of laughing.
I know you might not be able to imagine what it might be like being away from your children for 51 weeks and then seeing them again. You might not be able to imagine seeing them descend an escalator at the airport, inches taller and infinitely wiser than the last time you hugged them. You might not be able to imagine a moment of awkwardness with two people whom you knew from their first breaths before you drop into the deep knowing that you have always shared. But I believe you can imagine the connections between you and these two people that never disappears, that persists despite growing up, growing older, and growing more into yourselves.
Next week when I write again I will have a year’s worth of memories packed into a week’s time to share with you, indelible images forever burned into my mind’s eye and my heart that will sustain me for another year.