The first hint came around 9:30 pm on my way home from Trinity. It was a text from my 16-year-old daughter, Ellie, saying “Just wait until you get home! LOL!”. Hmmm… She had me guessing for miles.
So when I finally drove up our quiet, dark street, there it was: my simple suburban house decked out in Christmas light finery. There were twinkly stars hanging from the roof and rows and rows of white icicle lights suspended from the ceiling of the front porch. Put all together, my little house glowed and shouted out “Welcome Home, Mom!” Tears. (The good kind!)
And there were even more surprises inside: A beautiful, fat, friendly Christmas tree that Ellie chose and put up with my good friends Megan and Harout, as well as lighted greenery spiraling up the staircase.
But my very favorite part was at the top of the stairs in my bedroom. Ellie had done this room all herself. There was a sweet garland of greenery festooned with tiny colored lights that swooped gracefully over the top of my bed. And on my bedside table sat the tiny Christmas tree that I always set up in Ellie’s room to make sure there is plenty of Christmas cheer in there. But she wanted me to have it this year. I so love that girl’s heart.
So I am home again. Ahhh! And this time for at least five or six months. We weren’t able to bring Steve home, but we do have some important clues to follow up on. So over these wet, cold months we will all get some much needed rest, spend time with our too-often-neglected families, and continue to process the information we have gathered.
Then in the late spring or early summer, as the ground warms up, we will plan to go back in. There was so much scattered scent, coming from so many directions, that it seems to have overwhelmed the HRD dogs, making it difficult for them to pinpoint the location of Steve’s remains.
But as most of that scent washes away with the snow and spring rains, it should actually be a clearer, simpler task for the dogs. (At least that is my understanding of how they work.) Their amazing noses can locate bones as old as 40 or 50 years, so less than one year should be no problem for them.
But for now, I will put away the bins of search supplies, store away my suitcase, and try to shift my attention back to what has always been the most important thing: sharing with my daughter–and each person I have the privilege of moving through life with– as much of the love and compassion that I have been blessed to experience from so many of you as possible. You see, you have changed me. You have changed us. We are so blessed.
All is well.