That's been true all of my life and luckily, still is today. The SGM has been retired for decades now but just as Mom did for 30 years all over the world, she has maintained that one constant security for her children.
I've also been blessed to have the comfort and love of many others whose doors are open to me, providing not only safe haven — but also that undefinable, yet instantly recognizable essence that is home. Sisters. Cousins. Aunts. Friends. Even the familiar voices of faces I'd not seen since adolescence — one in Memphis, one in Phoenix and one in Kentucky — can reach through a cell phone and wrap me in a cloak of solace as surely as if they were tucking a blanket around me as I curled up on their couch.
But as safe — and perhaps much more importantly, loved — each of these make me feel, none has erased a singular longing.
I want to go home. My father holds me and tells me in his living room, "You are home."
I lie with my head in my big sister's lap, as she strokes my hair while I weep and long for home.
My baby sister holds me tight, both of us crying in her driveway. "You have so many homes. So many people who love you."
"No. I want my home." She holds me tighter.
I look at my godmother, who 15 years ago was also widowed in her early 40's. "I want to go home," I sob. Her shining eyes mirror mine.
And she says: " I know."
On a quiet November afternoon, in the home we had made, I peacefully held my husband in my arms as I waited for the gentlemen in the dapper suits to arrive. I calmly walked outside with them as they prepared to take him for one last ride. I kissed his beautiful face and watched as they closed the heavy black door. I turned to walk back inside, still determined and head held high. I summoned the same posture of dignity I'd tried to maintain throughout every challenge of the previous years.
I stood straight and tall until I recrossed the threshold of what was now just walls and floors, windows and doors. Just a house. Mocking me. I have no idea how many steps I took before I hit the floor. I have no idea how quickly, or how many, arms wrapped around me. How many I reached for and clutched.
In the moment, I had no idea where the grotesque sounds I heard were coming from. Sounds I'd never heard and hoped I never would again. I soon realized they were coming from me, and all too soon, realized I would hear them again. And again. And again as the months passed. Even if only in my mind as my mouth formed silent screams. It could have been at 3 p.m. and I was locked in the restroom in my office, hoping the running water would mask any gasp that escaped. More often, it was 3 a.m. and I couldn't stop long enough to catch my breath, much less think — or care — about what my neighbors might have thought if they heard.
More days than I care to admit, at the end of the day, I'd pull my phone out as I walked to my car and punched 2 to tell Mr. J that I was on my way home.
But there was no home.
Because my best friend, my confidante, my cheerleader, my protector whose eyes and arms could erase fears in an instant and my playmate who could make me laugh and sing just as quickly was no longer there.
Over the past year, it's taken me a long time to realize that the same metaphor that marked the first twenty-odd years of my life is still true.
Now Jamie's heart equals home. And home is, was, and always will be where he is.
"... and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart. i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart.)"
And as long as I can keep sight of that wonder, I'm safe at home.
excerpt from i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) ©1952 e.e. cummings