Or arriving home from a day away, leaving money or keys on the counter. Or sliding barefooted into the kitchen with hunger in their eyes, seeking to fill those empty bowls.
Their grumpy good mornings and sleepy-faced yawns, still adorable to me after all these years.
And their laughter, bubbling forth from tickle fights or Nerf wars, wrestling matches or backyard races, table games or corny conversations.
Or the songs they play through ipods or record players, stereos or computers. At times, loud enough to shake the house; at others, soft enough to soothe the spirit.
The smell of their hair, no longer scented with baby shampoo but gelled and conditioned. It is the smell of my own heart growing wild and free.
Or the scent of old shoes piled at the door; or muddy clothes from a day in the woods; or popped fireworks, smoldering after late night explosions of joy. All strong. All good. All proof that my children are alive and well and moving through this wonderful world.
The warmth of their hugs and snuggles and kisses, more rare now than when they would resist leaving my side, but still a gift that swells my soul.
Their gentle shoves, fist bumps, high fives, and hip snips. Their teenage ways of showing affection when bear hugs and butterfly kisses seem too much.
The family movie nights under covers, when popcorn and comedy release restraints.
The tender taste of their ideas, bubbling forth from sprouting minds. Yes, I swallow each delicious bite they offer me. Their thoughts, their feelings, their fears, their hopes and dreams. I am hungry to know it all, and I am grateful to receive the servings they share.
The sight of their beautiful smiles, delighted and genuine, a dose of God’s grace each time I see them.
The string of debris left in their wakes, transitioned from stuffed animals and matchbox cars, to legos and treasures of rocks, sticks, feathers, and nests. Now a scattering of school books, lunch boxes, and water bottles. Science fair projects and ticket stubs, posters and photos, to-do lists and permission slips.
The weight of their spirits, soaring with me through this life. And the hope they offer with every single inhale. Exhale. Heartbeat. Pulse.
All reminders that we have each other, and that this is a love beyond limits.
A love beyond love.