When we flew into Orlando the weather was mild, warm enough that it seemed like a treat compared to Upstate New York, but not so hot that we were uncomfortable. The days that followed were stormy, dramatic claps of thunder, lighting and torrential rains creating an unexpected layer of grittiness to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We trekked through the Universal campus wearing our raincoats -- zipping between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. We clocked an average of 10 miles a day, but the girls never complained. Our last day in Orlando was Thanksgiving, and we spent it at Disney World under a bluebird sky.
We flew home to a winter storybook. Fresh snow clung to the tree limbs, the tops of the houses and buildings were white and the streets looked like silver ribbons. It could not have been a more emphatic punctuation to a week of beach, bay and neon lights. The glow of last night's Cinderella Castle light show and subsequent igniting of holiday lights and music still warm inside of me.
The holidays have arrived and with them, the most intense awareness of center. Our cozy house, with its sledding hill and tree fort, our family chorus of laughter and singing and that moment each night when all is right, these are what matter. I pad to their room, or rooms, whatever the particular sleeping configuration preference of the night is, and I kiss them. The routine is different with each daughter, but no matter what, I walk back to my own bed with the scent of their breath still around me, the silky strands of their hair still a kiss on my skin and the sense that I am exactly where and how I am supposed to be. Those moments of the day never fill with regret or longing, because that inexplicable fullness of belonging to them is greater.
A new layer of sisterhood emerged this week, not through any prodding on our part. We caught the girls playing with one another's hair, singing to each other in the long lines, helping with stuck zippers or big words. They slept in a tangle each night and ran shoulder-to-shoulder all day. They were aware of each other in a way that they are of their friends, "Oh, you, yes, I like you. Let's laugh together."
When I watched them walk through the wall of Platform 9 and 3/4 at King's Cross Station, I realized that this awakening of belonging and being has always been a preparation for understanding that childhood isn't an ending, it and I am their beginning -- always there, but a part of somewhere else, a place, or places that they are meant to go.
It's OK to have a lump in my throat; I just can't let it weigh them down so much that they can't pass through to where they need to go.
"Home is where one starts from."