I was obsessed, a few days ago, with the idea of home. With going home, returning home, not forgetting home.

I think it was because there was a leaving home going on, and it was making me a little sad, to tell you the truth. It felt like the end of something that I would never get back. Too much change. Too much goodbye.

So I took pictures.

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I stopped on the highway, the last day my son lived with us, and I took a picture of the road, with our little farm in the distance, off to the left. Just a few trees poking up through all that prairie. It was just him and me, on our way home from whatever last-minute shopping we’d needed to do, and he’d laughed at me for taking ten pictures to make sure I got one that was just right, until finally I just went and stood right in the middle of the road and got the one I wanted.

The next day we packed him up and drove him away and left him in another city, in another house. And we all survived and life remains sweet.

But I’m still obsessed.

I take a walk down the back, dirt road and when I turn and start back I take another picture. Home in the distance, old white farm-house and paint-peeling barn.

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And I walk out to the barn with my husband, and I turn and take a picture. Looking back.

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I think that my obsession began out of fear. I wanted him to remember his way back, and I feared he might not. I didn’t want to keep him home, not really, but I wanted to know he’d be coming back. Yes, I think that’s where it started.

But truly, now, it’s something else.

I’ve realized, many many oh-so-many words later (so sorry, readers!) that this home is mine.

It’s mine to keep and share and clean and offer welcome.

It will be my children’s home in memory, but they will make their own spaces somewhere else. They’ll find people and walls and they’ll make and clean their own messes and I’ll visit them there. Bringing banana bread or brownies with me, to share.

And sometimes they will come back, to be with us for a while. It will be sweet and busy and full, and we’ll secretly be a little bit happy when they leave us in peace again.

I can’t quite imagine it yet, two noisy boys still here with us. But I know it will happen soon, and I will call it bittersweet.

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