I wave goodbye one more time and drive away

Sighing to myself, I feel accomplished

I relish in the thought of my impending alone time

At home I close the door behind me, then I see it –

The things they’ve left behind

More shoes than we have feet for under the entryway bench

A scattering of cups in the kitchen

A granola bar wrapper on the floor next to the trash can

A half-done puzzle on the hallway floor

Little socks, so many little socks

A stack of games in the corner of the living room

Their framed art on the coffee table

A collection of rocks on the bathroom counter (?)

Barbies in the empty tub

And their rooms

So quite and still, almost like they were never there

Kind of like an empty shell

A memory of life, but vacant

Two stuffed animals on the ground

Faded marker on the white desk

Little clothes *almost* in the hamper

The essence of their smiling faces in pictures

A single leaf on the chair

Books spilling off of the bookshelf

A tiny family of bunnies in a tiny doll house

I sit there in that quiet space, feeling like a visitor

I own this house, but not this room

I am their mom, but not their moon

Their choices require my guidance

Their bodies, my hugs

Their struggles, my comfort

But their lives are their own

Of that I am reminded when they go

And if I didn’t take advantage of those last minutes to be present

I worry they will remember my absence instead

Then as quickly as they leave, they return

They fill the space

It’s as if they never left


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