We are ready. The sheets on the bed are washed, the wrinkles are smoothed out with loving hands. Four hands ready to welcome her home. One pair of hands gets the last of the laundry done, the other shops for the favorite foods.
Our hearts are ready too. We long for the circle to be complete if only for a week. We are grateful she wants to come home to us instead of somewhere else. After all, it is Spring Break. She explains it may be a while before she can come home again. There is a summer internship and a semester away after that. We don't cling. We are good at not clinging.
We have raised our only child with gentle hands. Hands that comforted and smoothed, and wiped away tears. Hands that cooked and cleaned and addressed the envelopes for birthday parties. Hands that clapped too loudly at all the school performances and dance recitals.
We held her tight, but not so tight that she thought she could never leave.
We are the three-legged stool that will be steady again for a little while. We focus on today. The homecoming. The arrival at the airport where we will search for her face in the blur of the crowd. The face I love like no other. She will hug me first because I bully my way through the crowd to get to her. On the way back she will hug him first. I ask her why he gets the first good-bye hug. He needs it the most, Mom.
He will smile again. He will ask her what she wants him to cook for her. She will eat fried shrimp with a guilty pleasure knowing I can't have even one bite. He will wipe the flour on his pants and ask her how it is.
The best, Dad.
I will laugh out loud again. She will tell me stories and somehow they will be the funniest ones I've ever heard. We will shop the Spring sales, visit the Newseum at least twice, and watch bad TV. We will eat all the good food our city has to offer. The Buffalo wings, the barbeque, the Indian and Thai restaurants. There will be the inevitable comment about my lack of cooking skills. And just as I am feeling a little hurt, she will admit she did not inherit the cooking gene either.
For a week, he and I will feel whole. For a week, the shaky three-legged stool will be sturdy again.
He and I will look at each other and know what the other is thinking:
Of all the things we've done in our lives, this was our favorite gig.