It is dark when the big truck drives into our yard. The boys, headlamps strapped over their toques, look like fireflies in the back pasture. I pull on ski pants and heavy mitts and dig out an old scarf and I head out to the barn to meet them.

It’s a beautiful night.

The goats scatter and mill about, but when one finally jumps up into the back of the truck, the rest follow. And then the donkey. And then the llama. The door slams closed and I offer coffee and a late supper, and I can tell the woman thinks it will be too much trouble but her husband says, sure.

We sit with warm cups and bowls of stir fried rice, and pass conversation and cream and a cheque across the table, and then they leave and the yard is silent.

Silent night.

I text my husband, away in the city for all these weeks of school. They’re gone, I say, and he replies, great, and I can read the relief in that word.

You can love a burden. You can love things that keep you tied down and you can miss them when they are gone. You can fret over a decision to let something go and wonder at the rightness or wrongness of it, but really, life is not meant for fretting.

So we’ve let them go, and we are living in the space of the emptiness created by their leaving. This empty cup is a gift, and we’re deliberately going slow in the refilling.

This is the way we are doing it right now. We are loosening the bonds, the ties, because it seems good and we’ll see what the filling looks like when the time is right.

It’s a beautiful silent night.