“Wanna go home, mommy!” he wailed.
I closed my eyes and tried not to cry. “I know, son, I know. I do too.” I don’t know how to explain it to him. I don’t know how to tell him that home is a memory, a wonderful few days in his mind that will never exist again.
He was 2 then. Only a few months ago last summer, and now he’s 3. Three years old. Too young to grieve for a time and place. He still says this to me, especially when we’re having a bad day and he’s upset. He wants to go home. So do I, son, so do I.
If he said it to anyone else, they would think nothing of it. When he says it to me, standing in the middle of our house with tear-filled eyes, I know what he means. I know what home is, and it’s not here. Home is a memory.
Home is a few wonderful days at the beach, splashing in the water, doing nothing for days at a time. Going to bed late after the sun went down at the beach, setting over us and creeping behind the pier. Home is a place where nothing is normal, but everything is wonderful. Home is the beach.
The surf, the sand, the little treasures sprinkled here and there. Mommy taking him out into the water for a swim, or yelling at the seagulls to leave our lunch alone. Home is bright, wonderful, and peaceful. Home is freedom.
I understand. I love the beach. No matter the season, it’s my place – a place of peace. I’ve always loved the beach, always had an affinity for water. So does the Destroyer.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised any more by anything my children say or do, but I am. The Destroyer is far too perceptive for his age. He has deep thoughts that occasionally bubble to the surface in toddler pidgin, and he is frequently frustrated that I cannot always understand them.
He’s right, though. Sometimes we find our heart home, and it has nothing to do with where we physically live. There is a piece of me that will always live in the woods of my childhood. I left a piece of me on the beach last summer, a wistful, yearning kind of thing. It sounds like the Destroyer did too.
I don’t know how to tell him you can never go home. You can go back to the physical location, sure, but you cannot ever return to that same place and feeling. Things change. We change. I can go visit the place I grew up, but it’s no longer home. It’s not the sanctuary of green that I remember. It’s not the same.
I hug him. “We’ll go back to the beach,” I promise. I don’t tell him “we can’t ever go home,” even though I think it. He doesn’t need that burden.