There was more peace than I expected while he was away. Worries had started to rise up on all sides, but tears and prayers are both healing in their own way. We said our good-byes at the airport and drove back home; the house feels so much emptier without him there. But evening came and there was peace after all, unexpected peace that filled most of the quiet hours.
We texted and I was reminded of how lacking that particular form of communication is. How can what needs to be said be said properly without warmth in one's tone, without a gentle touch or a certain look in the eye, all those little things that say so very much more than the flat words themselves?
Each night went by uneventfully. We ate simple dinners and I chased away invisible burglars after the kids were in bed, then stayed up too late catching up on Once Upon a Time and Call the Midwife while eating licorice and cookie dough. Oh dear.
The days went by quickly and then he was on his way back home. We picked him up at the airport and there's that moment you nearly hold your breath for, those arms around you and yes, all is well in your world again. Breathe. You fall asleep on your own side of the bed that night - early, because late nights of television and junk food only happen when you feel too alone to turn off the lights - and it too feels right again.
He leaves again soon. Not for a funeral and not for a mere handful of days, but for two weeks this time, and then another two weeks soon after. That dreaded phrase - business trips - is becoming part of our family's vocabulary now. What is normal for others is brand new to us. We'll adjust, I know, but I'm easing into that acceptance slowly. It's such a tiny thing compared to the weeks, months, even years that others spend apart; those are sacrifices far more noteworthy. And yet this is our story and it feels significant to us, minor though it may be in comparison.
Tonight, though, he's here and I'm here and that's just as it should be.