Grandma Judy came to visit yesterday and in a completely unexpected move (although if you know Judy, you know this actually is the kind of thing she does all the time…), she offered to take Alex to her house for three days.  THREE DAYS!  He was ecstatic, to say the least.  Barely a “goodbye, Mom” or “I’ll miss you!”  Just running out the door, putting himself in her car and off to three days of fun times.

Drew felt a little abandoned.

I started looking around, trying to figure out what to do with myself.  Not due to my amazing “on top of it” skills, but because there’s SO much to do, that I’m not sure where to start.  I have all sorts of organizing projects crammed up in my head.  There are way too many books and magazines to read.  Matt’s preparing the soil to plant a garden out back and create a bocce ball court.  Practically speaking, there’s floors to vacuum & mop, countless counters and surfaces to dust, toilets and sinks to scrub and loads of laundry to wash, dry & fold.

But, I think I’m going to tackle the boys’ photo books, finishing up Drew’s 0-6 month book and Alex’s 3 year book since his 4th birthday is a month away.

On the days where I’m honest, life is pretty *full* {read between the lines:  draining, exhausting, creativity zapping} trying to keep up with an inquisitive, busy and determined 3 year old.  So, having some time apart is no doubt good for us.  Many days I dream of having someone offer to borrow him for a few hours, let alone days, so I can breathe and get a few things done that just seem impossible otherwise.

Even while away, though, my oldest’s presence echoes.

If you don’t look closely, you might miss it…

Before leaving, Alex carefully took out each candle, placed it upside down, and added some heart erasers leftover from Valentine’s Day.  I walked by this, did a double take, and started laughing.

After seeing the candles, I went over to the blinds to raise them up and saw this….

For post-strabismus surgery therapy, Alex still patches his eye for an hour a day.

And the patches end up in the oddest of places.

This patch was carefully and lovingly placed on Drew’s stroller.

Another echo….Hot Wheels and Matchbox Cars.  Arranged in the play kitchen.  Obviously.

And because one’s wake-up alarm belongs in a prominent place, in the kitchen, next to the mixer….

Later, I was going to put recycling in the bin and found this…

Alex had lovingly wrapped up a dead plant {sorry, Mom….I killed it} in a box.  Classy.

And then there’s this….

(No need to worry.  Alex didn’t chuck his glasses up there.  Matt did.  In an attempt to keep him wearing his new glasses.  Now Alex is at Grandma’s.  For three days.  With only the new glasses!  “Point.  Set.  Match!”)

* * * * * * * * *

And then my personal favorite.  Our CRV.

Alex wants to make sure we’re always prepared to make a campfire.  That’s the legacy of working & living at Westminster Woods.  So, he’s continually gathering sticks and preparing for that opportune moment when building a campfire is necessary, fun and sticks are needed.

All of these are tangible reminders, echoes, of our son.  He’s up at Grandma’s, no doubt having a blast.  This week Judy took Alex for 3 days, Leila’s helping me with Drew on Saturday so I can get my hair cut & colored and my parents are in the process of booking two trips to visit!  I just want to take a moment and publicly say, “We are so lucky.  We are so spoiled.”  I genuinely LOVE spending time with all of these amazing folks.  And they love our kids so deeply and wholeheartedly.  I know so many who don’t have these kind of relationships with their parents, let alone their in laws.  And so many others do have those relationships, but the physical distance is too big to see one another too often.

So, as I go about the next few days without Hurricane Alex in the mix, I may manage to get a few more things done or accomplished.  However, I will smile big as I keep happening across echoes of his presence.

And man-o-man do I hope that echoes of my presence bring a smile.  What am I leaving behind in my wake?  As we enter into the end of this Holy Week, the focus on Jesus’ last supper with his closest friends, Judas’ betrayal, the painful journey to Jerusalem, the cross, the death, the tomb and the stone pushed with finality….there is still an echo.  An echo of Christ’s presence.  An echo that is heard because his message of love and sacrifice has been carried on by those who were around him long ago to their friends, families, co-workers & neighbors.  This echo is heard and seen in the amazing creation around us.

Creek near Califon, NJ

Sunset at Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe

May we hear and acknowledge these echoes–even if it’s the echo of pain, sacrifice, love and presence.  The trumpets, timpani, and fanfare of Easter morning echo loud and clear.  In fact, they often reverberate.   But, the quieter, darker echoes of this week have their vital place too. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,

and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 

16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

18No one has ever seen God.

It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

~John 1: 14, 16-18

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