An Empty House

I love the quiet, the stillness before the sun rises and little feet patter down the hall. This time is my gift to myself and to God. It is the time when the coffee is still hot and my soul is more contemplative than chaotic. This time is a treasure, bought with reluctant obedience to an early alarm. Having traded sleep for silence, I feel so deprived when unexpected needs arise. I meet the cries and sleepy hugs of early risers with the covetous heart of a child whose candy has just been snatched away.

And yet, on a morning like this, when the beds are void of kids who’ve spent the night at their grandmother’s, the emptiness of the house becomes vacant space in my soul. I look forward so wistfully to my stolen moments alone, time to catch my breath and regain lost ground on projects lying fallow for want of attention. But in this moment, the silence is not the voice of solitude, but a prophetic anticipation of the quiet that looms inevitably ahead.

One day, the counters won’t be sticky and the floor will be free of crumbs. The washer won’t rewash so many loads gone undried. Beds will stay made.

My writing time will be free of interruptions.

These thoughts should liberate me, the finish line at the end of a breathless race. Beyond that finish line awaits its own kind of beauty. But nothing, these moments remind me, worth skipping ahead to greet.

As G.K. Chesterton said, ‘The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” My little shooting stars will be here so brief a time, and their littleness gone even quicker still.

One day, this empty house will be filled with the echoes of songs sung, pages turning, towers crashing, and squeals of delight. It will resonate with the sounds of memories made, not haunted by moments wasted. The house will be empty and my heart will ache, but I will be wanting for the goodness that was rather than wishing for what could have been.

When I’m left in the stillness with writing as my solace, how grateful I will be for the moments it was writing that I set aside for my children, and not the other way around.

3 thoughts on “An Empty House

  1. When a was a young mother my next door neighbor encouraged me to enjoy every moment. I followed her advice and treasured time with children. I am glad you are aware of that advice.

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