My flight leaves in exactly four hours as I write this. The girls are still sleeping after back-to-back sleepovers and hours spent helping us build the fence that I declared I wanted. It is the kind of morning that makes me want to say aloud to the trees and sky, “I am so happy to be alive.” As the light filters through the tree and birds swoop into the feeders and then fly out, banking near the window and disappearing into the lacy limbs of the Hemlocks, my throat feels tight.

Little girl sits with her hand outstretched waiting for birds.

Finley patiently sitting with bird seed in her hand.

Leaving this moment feels like some sort of cheating. How can I possibly leave when the girls are on vacation, the yard is nearly done, and we are all so content? My feet are leaden before a trip; shame hovers as I also feel a fluttering. Travel, leaving the ordinary and testing my courage and even my imagination.

Last night, one of the last things Sean said to me was, “Don’t let guilt swallow you. Feeling guilty is like obsessing over something in the past. It doesn’t move you forward, and it doesn’t do anything for us. Go do this.” I kissed him and promised that I’d heed his advice, my fingers figuratively crossed behind my back.

Padding around the backyard with the dogs and my first cup of coffee I admired our work from the past three days. A fence to keep the dogs in, gates the girls can climb on, posts we dug together, and benches he made from the trees he felled. A whole world we’ve created on dreams and hard work. I’m leaving for a few days, but I’ll still be here, and the girls and Sean will discover new ways to be together. They’ll create memories that they can share with me.

Life is made up of countless arrivals and departures. I think the threat of tears and the promise of excitement are a part of the beauty of it all. And homecomings.