Water splatters on my shirt as I scrub the last bits of garlic, tomatillos and cilantro from the Cuisinart with intensity. The crunching sound of a key pushing into the lock pulls focus from the kitchen sink to the front door. I quickly turn off the flow and before I can dry soapy hands on a dishtowel, she walks into the house. Glowing.

My daughter is home from college for a long weekend. I haven’t heard that sound of a key turning in the lock for a month. In a matter of moments, our arms intertwine, embracing.

“Are you happy to be home,” I whisper in her ear.

“Yes, I’m so excited,” she replies.

She didn’t pack a suitcase because all of her clothes are in a laundry bag. I’ve never been so happy to see that much laundry in my life.

As she walks into her bedroom carrying a backpack of homework, she exclaims, “Whoa, it’s so empty in here. This feels weird.”

Almost as weird as her absence on the couch, at the dinner table, in the driveway over the past few weeks.

Her bedroom is a skeleton of what used to be a mural of souvenirs from adventures and traces of joy from creating on the carpet. Decades of memories are now piled into cardboard boxes in a storage space.

To borrow from Dickens, these are the best of times and the worst of times.

While we relish in her presence, chatter with girlfriends filling up the empty void in our house, these days come with finality. This may be her only time to drive home from college for a long weekend.  If there is a next time, she will push the door open to an empty house.

Tears stream down my cheek as I write this.

Our call to England is sure but there are sacrifices that come with it. Proximity to my daughter happens to be one of them.

This is the ache of God on a mother’s heart. Letting go of our children is perhaps the most heart wrenching of the choices we must make. The same way the heart of God aches when rescue isn’t what is best for us.

Cooking favorite meals, sending packages of baked goods to a college dorm room and weekend trips with my firstborn, they won’t happen with a whole ocean separating us.

I swipe a soppy dishrag into stray pieces of lettuce on the counter top while she and H unload the last bits from the trunk (or boot if British). Walking past the bar with a blanket draped over her shoulder, she looks at me and says, “This doesn’t need to be washed, I brought it with me because I want it to smell like home when I go back.”

I didn’t need to ask, she saw the question written on my face. The way all mothers talk with their children.

The face of Jesus is a face that belongs to us the way our past belongs to us. It is a face that we belong to if only as to the one face out of the past that has perhaps had more to do with the shaping of our present than any other. ~Fredrick Buechner


I won’t be sharing my posts on social networking channels daily because who wants to see that much of me, really? If you want to follow our adventure to London subscribe to the blog in the side bar and posts will slide quietly into you inbox. Start from the beginning of the series here.