That particular morning, I had been abruptly woken by Anthony and Nora running from a “monster”, which suspiciously resembled our black Labrador, Diesel. They bounded up onto my bed and wriggled down into my covers, piercing the air with playful screams. Moments later Diesel was standing on top of me, nosing into the covers in search of his playmates. The joyful shrieks of my children are much more arousing than any alarm clock I’ve ever heard. Their voices rung in my ears, even after I wrapped the pillow around my head to avoid being licked to death by the dog.
“Alright! I’m up! Everyone off the bed! You too, Diesel. Let’s go get some breakfast.”
“And coffee too, right Mom?”
“Right.” They knew me well.
Glancing at the clock on my husband’s dusty nightstand, I realized that I had twenty minutes to get all of us washed, dressed, fed and out the door in time for the kids’ yearly doctor appointments. Looks like I was going to have to skip the shower, again. The night before, I had fallen asleep sitting at the kitchen table. I woke up around midnight, my head on a pile of bills. I peeled a drool-stained envelope off my cheek and figured a shower could wait until morning. I had promised myself that I would remember to set the alarm.
As was typical of our days spent during my husband’s military deployments, the kids and I went through our daily routines, feeling the gaping hole of his absence, and saying nothing about it. It was just there, like another member of our family – Anthony, Nora, Mommy, and the emptiness where Daddy should be.
By the time we got home from a day filled with errands, it was long past the kids’ naptimes, so I opted for early bedtimes and started dinner. After dinner, I gave the kids their baths, read them a few books, and tucked them in. We prayed for Daddy to come home safely in two weeks, and they thanked God for every single toy we own – one at a time, by name. There is nothing quite as exhausting as a preschooler’s ten-minute prayer. Especially when multiplied by two preschoolers!
As soon as they were asleep, I contemplated jumping into the shower. I could really use one, as I hadn’t shaved my legs in weeks. With no one to see or feel them up close, it hadn’t really been a priority. Instead, I got to work cleaning the messy kitchen. The rest of the house was also a disaster, but I knew that if I cleaned too long before my husband’s return, I would just have to do it all over again the day before his arrival, which was two weeks away. So I put all the real cleaning off until the time was at hand and things were really starting to pile up.
By the time I was done, I found myself exhausted once again. I tried to talk myself into a shower, but the bed was just too inviting. Without even washing my face or brushing my teeth, I laid down, in my clothes, in hopes of a quick catnap.
Hours later, I was jarred awake by the noises of pounding on the front door and Diesel barking wildly. Where should I hide my kids? Basement? Attic? Out the window and to the neighbors? Terrorists? Robbers? What time is it anyway?
I cautiously peered out between laced drapes. Two floors down, the dim street light faintly revealed a dark and unfamiliar automobile. Two shadowy figures stood on my porch. Suddenly, one of them looked up. He looked right at me. Startled, I gasped and stepped back. When I worked up the nerve to take another peek, there stood my husband, his face illuminated by a flashlight.
I beamed with excitement until I realized the state of household he was about to run across - weeks worth of dirt and mess piling up for the sole purpose of presenting a house freshly cleaned upon his arrival. And let’s not forget that his wife hadn’t showered in days or shaved her legs for weeks.
My heart ping-ponged back and forth between delight and panic, all the while propelled by the element of surprise. Gladly, he knew that beauty is fleeting. Unfortunately, he hadn’t expected it to flee completely while he was away.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."
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