Paul took off this morning with two of the girls to work in the valley. Greta and Ingrid will stay with Grandma and Grandpa while Paul works on the garage. Elsa and Dagne will stay with me — Elsa is playing volleyball, so she didn’t want to miss. Dagne just wanted to stay with Elsa and me. I figured I could handle it and with everything so topsy turvy, it seemed best to listen to her.

It feels like normal life. Paul gone. Talks on the phone to stay close. Me working during the day and running the girls around at night — trying to stay in shape sometimes. The girls schooling on their own til we can check on them later. Dinners, packing lunches, breakfasts rushed … then there’s laundry and cleaning in between times. Moments of laughter and relaxation feel guilty — like their stolen. 

Italy seems far away — both in time and place. Was I really there? Did I really wander the streets of Rome and shop in the markets of Florence? Was Miche’s David a dream?

And that day I decided that we’re going to take the blue pill and wander all over the states seems like a pretend game that was just getting good when the parents walked in and flipped the light on. That’s what “real” life does to you. Turns your real into pretend. Blows it. Flips the light on and the magic is gone.

I cuddled with Paul on the couch the night before he left. Smelled his neck. Listened to his hearbeat. Kissed his cheeks. I fought the hurry and the rush with a deep breath in his neck. One … timeful … moment.

Downstairs, kisses under the chins. Prayers whispered in ears. Little eyes looking at me from the dark. Arms tugging around my neck. Little bodies that grow far too quickly wrapped up like burritos. Trip over a dog dish. Sigh at the clothes on the floor. Look at the reflection in the window, sigh at that. Rub eyes. See the dust bunny. Sigh. Listen to bell-like voices say goodnight again. Listen to shouted prayers as I go up the stairs.

Feel heavy. Can’t do a load of laundry. Too tired. Wash face. Brush teeth. Drop clothes on floor. Too … tired. Crawl into bed. Too … tired.

Paul and I read Sheldon Vanauken’s book, A Severe Mercy. He talks about a timeful life. Paul and I are always trying to create that.  A life full of time. It’s so un-American, but it is what we’ve always wanted. Somehow, we’ve lost it. In the midst of home ownership and insurance, two cars, and activities, the timeful life is gone.

I won’t give up on the idea. I know Paul won’t either. We’ve just got to keep it in the front of our minds. We need to make choices that lead us that way. I wonder if that means letting go of the house? I wonder if it means keeping it.

I wish I knew.