“Lauren, I want ice-cream!” Jason yelled.
I laughed, “When we’re done,”
I pushed Ellie on the swings as Jason and Brett played tag. We were at the park today and Steph had just called and said she was on her way.
It was a Friday afternoon and the sun was shining. The kids had argued over what to do today, but in the end I had decided on the park.
Princeton was running around and began barking when Steph walked up. She smiled at me and went to go play with the kids. I sat on the bench and took out my diary. I wrote out my prayers to God and then wrote to Jayson.
It was the three month anniversary of the day I had left, I had called mom once to assure her I was alright and it killed me to hear her so worried. I promised I’d come back home sometime soon but I made no references to when.
I didn’t know when I wanted to go visit, I didn’t call it home anymore, home wasn’t what that place was to me.
Home was defined differently to everyone; to some people it was a building, a street number, a certain door bell. To others home was where you were at the time, where you slept. Still other people always considered home the place they were born, or maybe where they grew up.
What was home to me? I considered this for a moment. Home wasn’t a specific place; home was where I felt wanted and loved. Where I was safe and cared for. Home changed frequently, right now, this park felt like home. I had talked to Bella about this in the last letter I had written her, she had said it sounded scary, to not ever know for sure where home was. I didn’t think so, home was where you needed it to be, where you wanted it to be. Home was an ice cream parlor, a department store, a suburban town, a farm house. Home was a soccer field, a small town high school, a gravestone, a certain road. Home was the way he smiled, the picture of him in my back pocket. Home was the taste of the milkshakes from Simon’s restaurant, the tree behind our house that shed its leaves in the spring instead of autumn. Home was a moment of sadness, a moment of joy. A letter from Bella with a sonogram picture attached, a school picture of Emi, the feeling you belonged. Home was Brett’s sticky fingers intertwined with mine as we crossed the street. Home was my purple turret room, my green car. Home was laughter in the silence, whipping a tear from Ellie’s face when she fell. Home was a familiar saying, a sibling, a kid. Home was not knowing what would be there when you got there, but that you’d be accepted no matter what. Home was a stupid bench with his name on it, home was realizing you weren’t always right but you didn’t have to be wrong either. Home was making mistakes and learning from them.
And as the five of us walked towards the ice cream parlor, hand in hand, a breeze blew over us. I turned my face to the sun and breathed in deeply. Steph had gotten a far off look in her eyes and I lightly touched her hand to let her know I was with her. She smiled at me and blinked back a tear before opening the parlor door.
The bells went off and the old lady behind the counter began showing the kids the flavours of ice cream.
As their little fingers pointed to the ice cream flavours they wanted; pink for Ellie, blue for Brett, and vanilla for Jason, I exchanged a look with Steph. She hugged me and said, “Thanks for being here, I couldn’t do this alone.”
I stood there, embraced with Steph, who was becoming more of a sister to me than an employer and closed my eyes. Home was right here, right now, and I would never forget that.
Home was the way I could close my eyes in the midst of the busy city, the silent countryside, the musical night, the bright new morning, and hear his heartbeat.