Slice of Life Tuesday: Signs of a child coming home!

 The Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Community is hosted by Stacey and Ruth at 

Yesterday morning, just as I was finally getting a live person on the telephone to answer an insurance question, I heard the doorbell ring and Sophie begin to bark her head off.  Not wanting to lose this chance to actually speak to a person who could actually (well, maybe) provide some answers to my pressing issues, I ignored Sophie and focused on the person on the other end of the line. Ten minutes later, with all queries addressed, Sophie was still barking and I finally went downstairs to see what was causing this agitation.  And, there on the just-washed front porch, waited this:

My daughter Elizabeth’s battered old suitcase, the one she shipped home from London before setting off for Istanbul and Cappadocia.  Seeing this bashed up suitcase sitting expectantly on the porch, looking for all the world like a tired traveler in search of the  rest and comfort that can only come from arriving home at last, made me cry.    
Years ago, I had read the Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran’s  book of verse, The Prophet, and taken his words about children very much to heart:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Ever since she was eight, we’ve been putting Elizabeth on planes and trains and sending her off on adventures she has planned and asked for.  Last year, she was in London completing her graduate studies, and she  had advised us that she would not be home very much. She intended to see more of Europe, to pack in as much travel as possible – and she kept her word.  The old days of: call-as-often-as-possible-so that-we-can-know  if: you are okay, you are eating properly and getting rest, you are making sure to do laundry/brush your teeth/take your vitamins, you are really okay…and happy..and know that we love you/think of you/miss you – those days are over.  She is an adult now, and at 24 she comes and goes as she pleases, she is living the life we have always hoped she would live.
But, seeing that suitcase made me cry, because I knew that Elizabeth was on her way home.   She will not tarry here once she lands in New Jersey, but, for a week or so, she will once again grace our table, be there to share coffee with on the porch, be in our house when we turn off the lights and bid everyone goodnight.
That poor, old, busted-up  suitcase, Elizabeth’s trusty companion for the past year, was such a welcome sight!
Elizabeth, at the Alhambra de Granada , Spain. June, 2013

13 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Signs of a child coming home!

  1. What a beautiful poem! Enjoy the moments you have with your daughter, because I can tell she will be off on the next adventure. FYI, we missed you last week.

  2. I too keep Gibran's words on my nightstand and in my heart as they are the key to understanding our children and encouraging them to make a place in the universe. Yet, I too, sense the utter joy and excitement you feel as the chance to reconnect and have her grace your table, ever so briefly, comes into view. I suspect we enjoy with rapt excitement the wonder of an adult child for what we know will be a brief interlude.

  3. Gibram is special; I discovered him long ago because of a very good high school English teacher! Special post, Tara, & special time. I am with you all the way. My son, daughter-in-law and grandson will be here in a couple of weeks, and I will be thrilled to have them drinking coffee on the porch! Have a good, good time!

  4. Enjoy the moments you have with her and relish in the thought that she is living the life you raised her to create. I can just feel your excitement at having her home again.

  5. My father once told me the Prophet was a book I'd value as an adult. I haven't read it yet. Now that I have a daughter and have read those lines, I think it's going on my summer reading list. Perhaps I can borrow his old copy in the closet of my childhood home. Yea for arrivals back at home!

  6. A gorgeous slice about a beautiful daughter. Amazing how you were able to put your thoughts and feelings into words and pictures. So sweet, Tara. So sweet. Enjoy the time together.

  7. As a parent of a 23 year old I admire you sense of release and encouragement of her being a world traveler. We did that last summer as our daughter spent the summer in Germany. But now she is home (although in an out) for two weeks and the we take her back to SC to her new home. I appreciate your words and most of all your tears-

  8. The Prophet, I can see my paperback copy on my desk at college. I think everyone I knew had that paperback and took it to heart. I love Elizabeth's suitcase and I hope we get to meet her soon.Enjoy, enjoy and enjoy!

  9. I needed that poem today. Yesterday my daughter reminded me that when she leaves for Europe in September, she will most likely be gone more than 12 months. I think I will have to read the Prophet, and frame that poem for me to read Thank you Tara!

  10. Beautiful!!! I'm the daughter that's far away from home. your voice reminds me that as supportive as parents can be, missing their daughter will always be part of their lives. Thank you.

  11. I remember the moment when my daughter came home from college for the first time. It was then I realized she had already come "home" for the last time some other day, and I missed it. Each time she returned would be a visit now, and her dorm rooms and apartments would be "home". I try to warn new parents… but it falls on busy ears, and they say they know. But they can't yet.

  12. Like Elsie, I missed you at All Write. Kate Messner talked at dinner about building our own team. You're on my team. I believe that BK told me she knew you and I'm jealous. I love this post about kids coming home, even for a brief visit. And the Alhambra is one of my favorite places. Enjoy your time with her!

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