Sunday, January 24, 2010


Yesterday my family and I went to Winterthur Museum in Delaware.  I had been there many times before as a "Homeschooler" when Steven and Christine were young.  The house is beautiful, and the galleries contain some amazing exhibits, but the highlights of our trips were always the Enchanted Gardens and the "Touch It" room.  My children romped in the fresh air of the gardens, and made new friends in the make-believe world of a General Store and hearthside cooking.  It was indulgence for me, as I received much needed rest, and giggled to myself as I covertly observed my children's interactions with others once they became immersed in play.                                                                                                                                                            Yesterday's trip was my first in about five or six years, and like many of the things I share with my "new family," was truly bittersweet.  Even Christine was feeling the pangs of nostalgia -- being there without her older brother, growing too tall for the Fairy Cottage.  There were so many things "wrong" with our life in those days, but so many things right -- we had each other and, despite the turns our lives have taken in the past couple of years, I believe we had love.  To stand there feeling as if a huge part of my life, a huge part of me was missing, sometimes brought tears to my eyes (providentially hidden by a sunny day's demand for sunglasses).  It was impossible to hear the laughter of Olivia, age 7, and Madison, age 9, and not recall Chrisitine and Steven at the very same ages running and playing across the same paths.

As we retraced the steps of ten years ago, however, we laid out new ones of our own.  We "explored" a part of the estate Christine and I had never visited.  I watched as Madison and Olivia experienced the magic of Winterthur for the first time.  Christine acted as guide and older sibling this time, showing her younger sisters the ropes and snapping pictures at every opportuniy.  I walked the Garden Path as I had many times before, but this time, as the children ran on ahead, I didn't walk it alone.

While boarding the shuttle bus at the end of the day, we agreed on ice cream for dinner and steak for dessert -- something Steven, Christine and I had done once before after a long outing.  But hearing Maddy and Olivia declare it was "the best day ever" was like hearing it for the first time -- it always is.   

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