Thursday, July 30, 2009


I swing wildly.

One moment we are dancing in the living room, children red-faced and wild, her pink fluffy skirts swirling wide in a spin, their Sunday ties flying over their shoulder as they jump off of the fireplace. I've prepared a tea with candy and cookies, and we sip and sweat and laugh and dance some more.

And then I am lonely. For my partner, the one who is taller than me, whose neck holds the spot my head fits into when we hold each other. He would have held my waist and mirrored my movements, though he would have felt awkward and silly and eventually begged to just watch instead.

I prepare a hodge-podge dinner, their favorite. Lamb and sour cream and tortillas and shredded mozzarella and olives and pickles and applesauce; the house is warmed by the oven crisping the lamb. And even though Little Man's diaper is stinky and it's the last one because I forgot to do the wash, I am still smiling and munching my salad, sitting at a dining room table temporarily without its leaf so that we can be closer while Daddy is away.

And then I am lonely. Even surrounded by the four who pepper my dinner with questions, and season it with their observations. I giggle as I sip pickle juice from the jar and then tears spill, because I wish he was here to wrinkle his nose and roll his eyes and hear me say You would miss this if I were gone! and watch his eyes deepen as he moves close to bury his nose in my hair.

I brush her hair while Oldest reads to us from a bedtime book. They are fed and bathed and sun-browned and the boys sit wearing their too-small shorts from last summer that are now this summers pajamas, and she wears a flannel nightgown because it's pink! that had a hem basted until she grew tall enough to warrant ripping it out and I'm thinking it's already time for that, how can it be? And I pull long strokes through blond curls and watch fading sunlight shine on his fuzzy white upper lip and breathe deep.

And then I am lonely. For all too soon, they will be tucked away, and it will be quiet. And I will wipe counters and click off lamps and turn off sprinklers and check and double-check deadbolts and tiptoe carefully down the hall to avoid the squeaky wood floors that lie beneath the carpet. And I will pull back sheets that were hastily pulled up this morning and I will slip beneath, alone, and wish for the thirteenth time in the last nineteen days that his long body that has to lay diagonally in the bed was lying next to me, that my pillows were already stacked and fluffed by his gentle hands, that deadbolts and sprinklers and lamps were checked and double-checked by him, and that we could laugh quietly about squeaky floors as we kiss goodnight.

I gaze at our pendulum clock as it chimes seven. I watch the pendulum swing back and forth, back and forth, and I wonder if it ever feels like flying off in one direction. It would, were it not for the anchor escapement; tiny teeth on a wheel that keep the pendulum from swinging widely, wildly, from "unavoidable variations in the driving force provided by the movement."

No wonder I swing so wildly.

I miss my anchor.

But I write in the journal I am keeping while he is away and I tell him that though the days are filled with so many unavoidable variations that I'm nearly driven mad, I'm focusing on the joy of a day filled with driving forces provided by the movement.


Provided for.

Because I am.

While my anchor and escape wheel is away, my Anchor still holds. His hands are my pillow, and His promise is my check and double-check. And He, too, probably wrinkles His nose when I drink from the pickle jar, and it makes me laugh to think.

Maybe, just maybe, it is He who is pushing me on this swing, anyway. And I'm holding on with all my might.

11 fellow travelers shared:

Deidra said...

Your words draw me in and I feel as if I am watching this day and seeing the loneliness, and the pink flannel and pickle juice and seven o'clock. Amazing isn't it, how we lived our lives all alone for all those years before this, and then we wonder - after we have settled in to building a life together - how we did it? Then it is that life alone that feels lonely and reminds us of the love and life that is becoming one.

I'm praying for your soon and sweet reunion!

Anonymous said...

Sunday evenings are the hardest.

Cathy said...

Word Artist. That's you, Elise.

Kelly said...

oh, that beautiful ache...

Sometimes I wonder if He is really enough, if what I know of His staying power is just me, grasping at straws or making something up, and yet the more of His love I know, the easier I am when it is just me and Him. The longest road I travel sometimes is the path into His arms, for so much of ME must go along the way...

How do we love them and let them go and still live? This is beautiful. Thank you, so much.

alli said...

The Lord brought you to my mind last night, Elise, and I prayed for you. I remember the days when my husband was gone two nights a week, and that was when we had no children. It would be so hard to have these long stretches with no partner to come home and be there with you in the evenings. But just know that our Kind Savior is thinking of you and having someone across the country pray for you because He loves you so much.

Alli in South Carolina
(the Beowulf sender)

Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups said...

God is good... He is our provider in every way... thank you, my friend, for sharing.

Linda said...

Elise, this is so poignantly, beautifully written. I was there with you, remembering the times I was alone with little ones too. How blessed to know He is always there.
This just touched my heart.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Truly beautiful . . . in every context.

I love quietly walking beside you here as you spill your heart so freely.

I have been blessed, refreshed, and encouraged . . . as always.

Thank you, sweet Elise.

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

this... oh this...
thank you, elise... as always...

Will you hug all the children from us here?

all's grace,
who turns out the last light alone and crawls into an empty bed, good farming man combining wheat under swollen moon... i will pray for you too, elise, and his soon return...

Maja said...

I just have to say, I stumbled across your blog by accident, and immediately added it to my favourites. I feel inspired and refreshed from reading your words.

May God bless you and your family!


Martie said...

I have been too busy for frequent visits. Enjoyed mine today. Sorry you are missing yours. How deeply the 'one flesh' relationship goes. Thanks for blessing me with your thoughts.


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