Sunday morning is quiet and dark.
It's the last one of the year and church is taking a day off. There was one major dog-related casualty in the night, the guts of a Buzz Lightyear pillow spilled out over the whole of the office. And the house is empty, minus two.
I think I'm fairly good at goodbyes now, and when they depart two hours before sunrise, I give long hugs and trade I love yous, stand at the door and wave through steamed glass. Then Christmas is over, I get back in bed with the children. We go back to real life and spend the afternoon by the sea. After 9 days with them, I'm full and contented. But a day or two after I miss everyone all over again, all the people who did not come. I long for my sisters, miss the company of my nephews, wish I could send the kids with their aunts and uncles into the snow.
I remember a year ago, all stuffed into Matt's parents' house, weighing suitcases and driving ice-covered Wisconsin backroads. We had left home on our long way back home. We'd already lived two and a half years in the in-between, what was two more weeks, anyway?
In the basement, we'd sit on our knees, sifting through our past and future, packing and repacking what would remain. Christmas was sweet, yet heavy. Time was both long and short. We were finally, blessedly moving on.
Today our home awakes. Most of us, anyway. Cocoa sleeps on her couch, exhausted by the early morning shenanigans. The children trade turns eating and playing, Beautiful Day plays on the radio (my favourite thing about Christian radio here is the prevalence of U2 on the playlist, even if the DJ speaks only in Irish this morning). Laundry and hoovering and one last piece of chocolate pie wait for me. We made it together, my grandma and me, here in my kitchen. In my house. In this country we now call home.
She left pie and pictures and memories in her wake. A year of settling insanity, a giant cake of beautiful change, topped with the icing of family on Christmas morn.
The house is quiet, dark. Empty but full. I'll take it, 2013. I'll take it.