Memories of summer (Part 2)
We spend our first week at the new house unpacking all the boxes. Every morning we wake up early, have breakfast, drink tea, and get right to work. Invariably, Rick does a coffee run by midday. In the afternoons, we check in with Rick's parents to see how the boys are going. We make numerous trips to IKEA and Bunnings. Our new minister drops in with his family, and gives us a welcome hamper and a big box of homemade chocolate pastries ("for sustenance"). Rick travels back to the old house to help with the final clean. Room by room, we set up our new home: First, the kitchen. Then, our bedroom (and the ridiculously large walk-in wardrobe). Then the upstairs study area, followed by the play room downstairs. Next, the boys’ bedrooms and, finally, my studio. All our things fit perfectly into our new place, and I discover that I don't miss any of the furniture that we sold or donated before we moved.
On the eighth day of the new year, the boys come home. We greet them at the door, and I embrace each of them in turn. Pa brings Lewis in last; I wrap the little boy in my arms and breathe him in as deeply as I can. My baby. I’ve missed you. The boys run around the house, opening all the doors, looking into every nook and cranny. We show them their new bedrooms, and we are rewarded with big smiles. Before they leave, we thank Pa and Nan profusely for their superhuman effort in looking after the boys for seven days and seven nights. We give the boys nuggets for their first dinner at our new home. At bedtime, Pete tells us that he misses Oxford Falls. "I know you do, darling," I say, as I kiss the top of his head. Much later at night, Rick and I order duck pancake rolls from the local Thai restaurant (a new favourite!) and watch Frasier on DVD before returning to our chores around the house.
On the third Sunday of the new year, we meet our new church family. Everyone is warm, welcoming, and friendly. The boys make instant friends: by the time the morning service is over, I see them running around the hall with other kids, playing tip and giving each other piggy back rides. My heart lifts, seeing how happy they are. We meet more people at the evening service, and we are invited to the church dinner after. I fall asleep that night thankful, happy, and excited for the year ahead.
The day before school starts, we take the boys back to Clareville beach. It takes over an hour to get there, but it is utterly worth it. The beach is almost empty of people. It is warm, and not humid. We throw our towels down in the shade and, after a quick snack and an application of sunscreen, all seven of us rush into the water. The water is warm and delightful, and the sand is black. Lewis clings to me, and I revel in his closeness. It reminds me of how I held Bear in the same way at the same beach exactly two years ago. Gus practises treading water. James worries about jellyfishes and blue bottles. Bear squeals with excitement. Pete wears the biggest grin. Together, we play tip in the water. After an hour or so, we head back to our towels for a quick lunch, then return to the water. We lie in the warm, shallow waters and chat. "This is so relaxing! I am so relaxed!" James exclaims (a number of times). And he is right. I look around me—at the glory of it all—and savour every moment. At quarter past three, Rick leads us in prayer. Together, we thank God for the holidays and a delightful final day. We emerge from the water tired, relaxed, and very, very happy. We meander back to the car and eat some final food while we wash the sand from our feet. On the way home, we drive past Oxford Falls and see our old home again. It feels strangely familiar to us, but it no longer feels like home…