Five Years ago, as the Saint Louis Cardinals were winning the World Series, my wife and I were sitting on moving boxes and enjoying the game. We were spending the last evening we would spend in our hometown before moving to Seattle. Lilly, who was six at the time, was unsure of things to come but, understood that something significant was about to happen. I checked on Timmy, who, at age four was sleeping and oblivious to the move. Driving home I reflected on the last five years. I realized how much we had grown together as a family. My wife had started a career and her own 401k. My daughter just finished a rollercoaster year of sixth grade; she was in between friends and was having a hard time making a connection. Timmy, established this place as his home and had built a foundation of friends that could be the envy of any nine year old. As I pulled into the drive way, I knew that night was going to be emotional. I almost didn’t have the guts to go inside. I dropped my keys in the key bowl and listened to them laugh as a sloth took his time reacting to a joke, in the movie they were watching. I sat on the couch; my wife knew something was off. Pausing their movie and gaining their attention I tried to read their faces, as I told them, we were moving home.
The next morning the kids slept in, no doubt hung over from the previous night’s announcement. My wife and I sipped our coffee in silence. I flipped through the pages of her mind in a feeble attempt to guess what she was thinking. Her mood was pleasant which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Glaring her into emotion, I finally got the insight I was looking for. Her cheeks touched her ears and a beam hid her face. She was happy and ready to move home. She had a huge family waiting on her. She had missed her nieces and nephews growing up. If there was any concern about her career, she wasn’t letting on.
Lilly was the first to make it to the breakfast table. She was unusually chipper. Her attitude was falling right in line with her mother’s. As I greeted her, I was ambushed with a barrage of questions, all of which demonstrated the kind of excitement only a child contains. She wanted to know if we were going to live close to grandma, if she would be able to go to the same school as her cousin, and a few hundred more unanswerable inquiries. I think I even got asked what she should wear on the car ride home. She was not second guessing the idea of leaving this place.
Then Thing Two entered. He found solitude in a blanket wrapped around his body and covering his head as if he were trying to survive a night on a tundra. He sulked as I poured his milk. Trying to rouse him and hopefully change his mood, I interrupted his spoon full of cheerios with a cheerful “How you feeling bud?” Timmy burst his silence. Crocodile tears streaming down his face, he sobbed almost incoherently. He obviously didn’t want to leave his friends behind. There was a thousand questions that two thousand answers could not gratify.
When moving day finally arrived, we woke up that morning anxious to get on the road. If we were going to turn this road trip into a vacation we had a schedule to keep. As we buckled our seat belts my wife was reading off the checklist. Satisfied we hadn’t forgotten anything she gripped my hand as I put the car in drive. Saying good bye to friends the night before had not been as final as pulling out of that driveway. Tears rolled down my wife’s face. She explained, to an upset Lilly, that she would be able keep up with friends through Instagram. We were afraid to speak to Timmy. It was 100 miles before my son broke his silence.
“Dad, does this mean we get to go to a Cardinals game?”
We all smiled.