"Now you are home, your physical presence filling all of the places that were so empty for the time that would not end. Somehow the days crossed off the calendar finally giving way to a new sense of time--as it turns out really the old way of the passing of time---swift and sure, moving forward at a dizzying pace. Now it seems that you have never left, until something reminds me that you weren't here last year when we hosted the friends' Christmas dinner and didn't know how we arranged the tables or who would be coming. You weren't here when Jack would get the job that would push him further into adulthood, the discussions about expenses, student loans, and purchasing a car. You weren't here to begin the process of blending the Mitchell and William's families--to smooth over the rough patches, to provide your perspective in the tense moments, to bring balance to the awkward two against one. What to do with these missing moments, the torn places, the gap that gapes, refusing to be filled. Here is where a pithy, positive lesson would be inserted, the learning that couldn't have happened any other way, an appreciation for what now has returned. But what is before me both soothes and pains, both reassures and angers, the wound covered with a thin film, the security of your presence now illuminating the scars of the time you were absent."