So at this moment, home is not here.
It's here. In a hotel room in Atlanta.
Because of the nature of his job, my husband has spent so much of his working life traveling hither and yon, far from the family (and the comfy bed) he loves. He has spent far, far too much time in hotel rooms like this one, alone, looking forward to our daily phone call so that he can eagerly catch up on everything he's missing back at home.
Thanks to his hard work and sacrifices, I was able to be a stay-at-home mom to our five grown sons (a vocation I cherished!), and we were even able to afford to provide them all with a Catholic education from kindergarten through high school. Those tuition bills required some financial sacrifices elsewhere (yay for Wal-Mart Faded Glory brand dungarees, not to mention Kraft macaroni and cheese!), but don't I know how blessed we were that we had the life we did! I am forever grateful that my husband's selflessness and love for his family, and the countless hours he logged on the road when he always would have preferred to be at home with us, made this life possible.
When he had to go to training the week before Christmas, we decided that right after Christmas, after our youngest son left to head back to his new home (for the next three years, anyway) in Germany, I'd do something I'd never done before: I'd join him. The company is paying for the hotel anyway, and being together is a whole lot better than being apart. And also, our home in NH, while ideal for raising five boys (and hosting family Christmases for them and their wives and children), is a bit too big and a bit too quiet when you're the only one living in it! I'm so happy that my husband and I are together, even if I'm spending parts of the days alone in a hotel room, waiting for his training days to end. If I'd stayed behind, my heart would have been here with him anyway.
Being parted from those you love is so hard (and again, my undying thanks to my husband for being willing to do it in order to provide so well for his lucky family!). You have to hold them in your heart. You have to make every place you get to spend time with them your home.
Now that our boys have grown up, moved out, gotten married, and started families of their own, we have homes in Michigan and in two different cities in Virginia--and in Germany now, too, I guess. (We are already scheming to find a way to get over there and put our youngest boy's guest room to good use!) Sometimes, when our family gathers for a Notre Dame football game, our home is in South Bend, IN.
I'm a homebody at heart, a nester to the nth degree; but as my family grows and evolves, I find myself less and less attached to the house where I raised my children. However, I am fiercely attached to my home, wherever that happens to be at the time.
The other day, I was reading a post on a blog for my mom, and Rosie mentioned a novel she'd put on her 2016 to-read list titled Hannah Coulter, which I've never read. Curious, I went on Amazon to find out more about this Wendell Berry book, and this beautiful quote attributed to the character for whom it is named spoke to me: "My mind... is close to being the room of love where the absent are present, the dead are alive, time is eternal and all creatures prosperous." Those beautiful words brought tears to my eyes.
That's it, I thought: although I've always missed my husband when he's been away on trips, and now I miss my kids who no longer live with (or even near) us, my mind is always a room of love where the absent are present.
And perhaps that's how my husband survived all the separations from his family over the years: by living in that room of love, with all of us gathered together inside its walls.
(P.S. Guess which book is now on my 2016 to-read list, too?!)