Lynna Clark: An empty chair

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 5, 2015

She drove twelve hours to get here. This beloved daughter of mine has not lived at home since she graduated high school in 1994. Off to college she went where she would meet her sweetheart and together they began their own great adventure. They’ve explored exotic places like China and Russia and South Carolina; birthed babies in New Orleans and eastern Kentucky. Put down roots for a while in the bluegrass of western Kentucky. Recently they settled in the beautiful Midwestern state of Illinois where they’ve bought their first house. She spoke of it fondly and her eyes sparkled when she mentioned “home.”

When she first left for college, which was only two hours away, my mama heart hurt. I’m such a weeper. But I knew it was only temporary… or at least I thought. I recalled my own mom saying how hard it was when I left for college. She’d look at the toothbrush holder with one empty space and miss her redheaded girl in south Florida. Not being a weeper like me, in her mind the best way to fill the void was to buy an extra toothbrush. So she did. Thanks mom.

When our Stephanie arrived last week with her youngest daughter Kianna we asked what they wanted to do before the time got away from us. A day trip to the beach was their number one, after visiting the grandparents of course. They haven’t seen the ocean in a very long time so off we went. The four hour drive there and back was just a skip and a hop after the long journey here. It was totally worth it to watch them play in the ocean and chase umbrellas down the beach when the tide suddenly sucked the life out of our party. Coolers, extra clothes, towels, snacks, and flip flops were pulled away when the last wave of the rising tide came in a lot stronger than expected, leaving even faster than it came. Several days later Steph was still shaking sand from her purse which was snatched off the back of a beach chair and dumped into the surf. Her wish to take a little coastal life back with her has surely been granted.

Time flew and before we knew it our visit was over. David and I stood on the porch and waved till they were out of sight. Thanks to her dad the fluids in her Jeep were checked, fresh pork chop sandwiches were ready for lunch down the road, and a crepe myrtle tree she bought was carefully loaded. Kianna having the same weird humor as her grandfather commented that she was not crying at all. Her eyeballs just get sweaty sometimes.

Back inside the house an empty rocking chair reminded me of the best part of the visit. Steph had pulled it from the den into my little reading nook where we shared a footstool and coffee in the mornings. We talked of family, the things the Lord is teaching us, and of hardships He’s carried us through. We shared decorating ideas and the crazy terror of raising daughters. We laughed at our wild hair and cried over hurtful relationships. Well… I cried because I’m a weeper. She just listened and related. Our time together confirmed what we’ve known since 1994. The shortest distance between two points is the love we share.

But it doesn’t hurt to have an extra toothbrush to fill in the gap.

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