Nine white shirts, perfectly folded, nestle easily along side an equally pristine set of ties. What looked like a large suitcase just hours before, now bursts with the reality of just how long two years is. Several pairs of slacks, a suit coat, a winter coat, socks, shoes, and even bedding fill every spare nook and cranny. I glance over his packing list for the gazillionth time. It's not like he's leaving the planet, I remind myself. But, it's two years... Two. Long. Years. Blinking back the moisture that hasn't been far from my eyes the last several days, I wonder at the experiences that await this young man I happily call my son. My chest bursts with more pride than his packed luggage. Two suitcases, a backpack, and a soul filled with love.
In the grand scheme of life, two years is merely a blink of the eye. But in the measurement of a mother it is a long time. In the stretch of two years, a lot could happen.... and, it will.
In two years, we will have another high school graduate, a high school freshman, and our caboose will be in junior high. In two years, the number of legal adults in our household will out number the number of children. In two years, I will have added another book (or two) to my resume and our caboose will have added another inch or six to his stature. Life will resume here, moving forward at the speed of the teenagers that fill our walls. Driver's licences will be procured. Hearts may get broken. Memories will be created... and all the while, our missionary will be making his own memories. He may not be here to comfort his sisters' broken hearts, or wrestle around with his ever growing brother, and, although we will miss him, we understand. There are others whose hearts he is meant to touch. Others who need his compassion, his laughter, and ultimately his service.
Two years may seem like a long time if you count it in days (730!), but I know not one moment will be for naught. As hard as it is to imagine him gone, I can't imagine him doing anything better.
I think I will count in terms of Fast Sundays. Twenty-four. Much easier for this Mama to swallow. Twenty Four is doable. Easy... almost!