Maddy, Ethan and I have been home sick with sore throats, headaches and drippy noses. We are successfully on the mend now. I have enjoyed playing nursemaid to the big kids, but...
The house is empty. Our tiny bungalow, usually swelling with noises and activity and sibling fights, well, it just seems to echo. Sure Maddy and Ethan still fight and play, but there's no resonance to it. The toys up in the girls' room are untouched. Maddy refuses to sleep or play up there.
One of my favorite things to do is wash dishes. We don't have a dishwasher and our kitchen window overlooks our backyard and garage. I used to love staring out the window while washing dishes. It was an easy way to ruminate on the day's events, but now I struggle to find continuity. The Christmas ornaments decorating the potting bench sway absently. My collection of Christmas stained glass hanging from the kitchen window is lackluster at best.
Perhaps I haven't been around long enough to notice that home isn't home anymore. We have all been feeling it. Ed and I, running our split shifts, are more insulated from Meg's absence. But being home with Maddy and Ethan, I feel the lack of purpose, the aimlessness of it all.
The Christmas tree doesn't shimmer like it did before. No one cares if the dogs get anything in their stockings. No one is agonizing over which cookie recipes to select. No one is playing with the Nativity. No one is reading nightly from the years of collected Christmas books. I think we've only lit the advent candles twice.
Daily living seems like an after thought. Our focus is on this elusive calendar that conceals Meg's homecoming. The kids aren't focused on Christmas Day's bounty of gifts. They- we - are focused on Meg's homecoming.
Advent is defined as "a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas." While we try to prepare our hearts for the promised birth of our Savior, we also wait expectantly for Meaghan's homecoming.
Families too many to be numbered struggle with the uncertainty of a loved one's return. The apprehension and singular desire of expectant families makes the Western celebration of Christmas seem perverse in its excess. Despite our best attempts at retail therapy and material distractions, I'd venture our true hearts' desire is to celebrate family - however we define that word.
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.
-- George Eliot
-- George Eliot