When Avi left home to go to university Isaac was in high school and while we felt the distinct twinge of abandonment we were buffeted by still having one child at home - well maybe not exactly "at home" but sharing the same address.
Four years later, Avi did not return home but Isaac took off for college on the west coast and the temptations of easy living in Santa Cruz.
We did a lot of visiting when the boys were in school but we also took advantage of being on our own and being freed of the responsibility of laundry, cooking, and the rest of it. Even worrying became easier because they were out of sight.
Fast forward a few years and we find ourselves again a family of four - five if you include Sami. Three and half years ago we made a conscious decision to live near each other. We have Shabbat dinners together. We do things with the children, separately and together. We got a dog - again. And by reuniting we opened ourselves up to the possibility of experiencing loss again.
This week the boys are in Europe. We are on our own. Avi left the day before Isaac. And when Isaac left we turned to each other and said "what now?".
They will both return. Avi will go back to his apartment and Isaac will find his own place - not in the same city. We will visit and new routines will be developed. Shabbat dinners will not be together every week, but it is so nice to know that meeting is within easy reach.
Now all we need is for the rest of the family to show up. My father was always happiest when we were all home - just home.