The grandparents have been visiting this week, the weeks leading up to the visit were marked with breathless anticipation. The girls would look at the calendar and, trumping even Christmas, December 7th called their attention. As soon as they arrived Briar began obsessing about the 14th, the day that they would leave.

“How many days are left Grandma?” She would ask.

“Oh, Briar, we have so many days and more than days we have hours. Hours and hours. And mand mornings and many nights to play.” It wasn’t until Saturday that Grandma’s eyes started glistening as she answered. Sentimentality runs deep in our veins, its force even stronger in Briar. She began negotiating, which quickly turned to pleading.

“Grandma, can you stay a few more days? Maybe like a week? You can borrow clothes from mom and we can get you money.” We all kind of laughed until it became a mix of keening and gasping, “If I could only have one more day with them, I just love them so.”

I held her last night, the moonlight pouring through the window highlighting the planes of her face. Her tiny hand clutched mine as her form shuddered beneath the blankets. Finally, “Mom, I love you so much, but right now I just want to be with my grandma.” I tiptoed downstairs after kissing her and whispered a solemn update to Grandma, who went upstairs to comfort her first granddaughter.

I listened to them leave this morning, my own sentimentality keeping me from leaping from bed for one last hug, tears too close to the surface. When the house was still again, I crept downstairs. The coffee pot gleamed and the windows were alight with the glow from last night’s snowfall. I perched on a stool and read the note they had left on the dining room table. Pictures they’d colored, presents that had been opened and the echoes of laughter that have been enjoyed this week swirled in the quiet. I was surprised by the happiness I felt and I let it fill me.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~Thornton Wilder