The past two weeks seemed to stretch out slowly, but the last day went in a flash. We've learned our lesson from past leaves - when we try to do everything and go everywhere, putting a check in the box next to seeing everyone at least once, we end up frazzled and frustrated with not much time for each other; as much as we love seeing everyone. It's a hard balancing act - we desperately want to see our families (the three of us together); and we desperately want to connect with each other.
For our sake, and especially for Amelia's sake, we did no traveling on this leave. We planned no day trips and we didn't try to cram in a lot of local sightseeing.
Instead our days were filled with bike riding, singing, kite flying, soccer with two balls... family in the kitchen cooking and talking... music and dancing... super tent making...rolling around on the floor wrestling...snuggly mornings in bed with Amelia patting our cheeks and yapping about "breffus", Battlestar Galactica marathons, laughter and love.
Amelia followed Rafe around like a little shadow wherever he went. The first thing she would yell every morning would be "mommy... DADDY!!" if she awoke before we did. The first time he put her in time out, her little heart broke and ours did too, watching her eyes well up with tears and her lip pooch out as she tried hard to take it all in. He was her hero and she babbled on and on about him every day.
The last evening we had dinner with two other couples at a neighbors house - everybody brought something delicious and the Marine of the house barbecued. We had fresh guacamole, home made salsa, cream cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon, baked potatoes with the fixin's, grilled corn on the cob, mesquite marinated chicken, veal chops, steaks and some fabulous garlic bread drizzled with honey and then baked. Rafe was finally able to meet the two of the couples who have really taken good care of me down here; the husbands are always willing to help me with heavy lifting or building or man jobs, and the wives are good friends and our children all play together.
We came back home and Rafe pulled out his guitar for the first time - Amelia went wild. She danced and sang with him as he got used to playing again. As he played, I sat on the other couch and folded laundry, singing along with his songs and watching Amelia run back and forth between us.
It's the kind of beautiful, simple night when you feel everything so clearly... strongly enough that you can hold the happiness in your hands, yet your heart almost bursts with the fullness of it.