“Mom, why’s dad gone again?” Logan asked from his spot at the bar.
I smiled and took his empty breakfast plate from him. “He went back to Windenburg for a few days. He’ll be home soon.” He was taking temporary leave—actually temporary, this time—from his construction job, as well as setting up a home health aid for Ava so that he could be in Oasis Springs to help with the move.
“Are we really gonna go live with Gramma?” Jasper scrunched up his face. “That’s reeeaaally far.”
“I think Grandma’s house is a little small for us, so Dad and I are going to find us all a nice big house.” I grinned at them. “And nobody will have to share a room.”
“Cool!” Jasper crowed.
Logan looked less than thrilled, but I couldn’t blame him. He had friends and family that he was going to miss, just as much as I did. Jaz was easier to get on board with the move, though he would probably kick up his share of fuss before all was said and done.
“Okay, kiddos, go get dressed. We’re going over to Aunt Nora’s today. After lunch, Uncle Josh is going to come over and take you guys to the batting cages.”
While they got dressed, I went into the nursery to get Tomlyn ready to go. Traveling with a baby was never easy, so it was a rather time-consuming process. Eventually, though, the diaper bag was packed and all persons were ready, and we headed to Willow Creek.
Just after lunch, Nora excused herself to put Ella down for her nap, and Logan and Jasper ran upstairs to watch TV in Caleb’s room. Since Tomlyn was snoozing peacefully in her bassinet, I settled down in the living room with Parker and Caleb.
“So, Caleb, you’re starting your junior year in August. Have you started looking at colleges yet?”
The teenager grimaced. “Come on, Aunt Lor. It’s too early to be thinking about that.”
“It is not,” Parker disagreed. He rolled his eyes at his son. “We’ve been telling him to start looking at programs he’s interested in. He needs to start taking the ACT, too.” He switched back to addressing Caleb. “With your grades and a good ACT score, you could get a full ride somewhere, but you’ve got to get on it.”
“How am I supposed to look at programs and settle on a school when I don’t even know what I want to do with my life?”
I laughed softly. “Fair enough. Not everyone can know what they want to do at your age. You know, when we were kids, your mom insisted for years that she wanted to be a violinist.”
“Don’t you start telling tales, Loralee, or I’ll have to tell some of my own,” Nora threatened, coming down the stairs. Once at the bottom, she glanced out of the window. “Oh, Josh is here. Caleb, go and get your cousins.”
God, I’m really going to miss this, I thought as I observed the family around me. Not just for my own sake, either; my kids were never going to be as close to their cousins as I was to Nora and Josh. Sofia and Jasper were just months apart, and only a couple of years separated Logan and Trevor, but they seemed destined to just be relatives, seen only at family reunions. The Yuen’s, Harrison’s, and Thoreau’s would go on being close—just without the Thoreau-Smithson’s. As much as I knew I was doing the right thing, it still hurt my heart how much my kids were going to miss out on.
Josh came in with Sofia to say a quick hello while he collected the boys. A few minutes later, they were off to the batting cages.
“Well,” Parker said, rising to his feet. “I think I’m going to go work on my book and leave you two hens to it.”
Nora snorted and swatted at him. “I’ll show you a hen.”
She sat down next to me after he’d disappeared up the stairs. “So, what’s up? You’ve got something on your mind; I can tell.”
I smiled a little. “You always could see through me.”
“Did something happen with Tommy? I know he flew in when Tomlyn was born, but I can’t help but notice he’s MIA today.”
“Yes. Well, no, but yes.” I laughed softly at myself before sobering. “I decided to move. We’re going to move to Windenburg.” The more I said it, the more real it felt. So it was probably going to start feeling very, very real; aside from my parents—and, obviously, the kids—Nora was the only person I’d told. I’d probably be telling a whole lot more.
Much like my parents, she didn’t seem surprised. “Well, it took you long enough.”
“I know,” I said, somewhat sheepishly.
Nora’s eyes shone. “I’m really going to miss you.”
I resisted the tell-tale burning in my own eyes. “You, too.”