Tonight I came home late after my second 10+ day at the office (long story, but it’s temporary) to find Kyle and friends putting the finishing touches on the mad Halloween decorations that spilled over to the inside of the house this year (spoiler: it’s creep-out-the-neighbor-kid-just-enough AWESOME!). A sink full of dishes (even though I did all the dishes late last night and haven’t been home to cook since), and the chaos that is often our house when I work too much (and sometimes even when I don’t) everywhere. When I work like this I could let Taco Bell make my dinner every night (ok, not every night), but I don’t. Just last night.
Instead I grabbed the wild-caught salmon I’d defrosted for Sunday dinner but abandoned last minute for lasagna, smothered it in Teriyaki sauce, and tossed some frozen petite peas in the microwave, noting it was already well after 8. I hesitated. It wasn’t likely anyone but me would eat it and leftover salmon is always a disappointment. But I needed nutrition and the salmon needed to be cooked and eaten, so I set the marinated salmon under the broiler and contemplated what to do with the leftovers and how badly my coworkers would hate me if I heated leftover fish in the microwave for lunch tomorrow.
As I sat down to eat, I hear someone burst through the front door. It was Luke, running in on his way home to grab his wallet, which he’d left here earlier. Sometimes here is still home base when he and Emily find themselves with a break in between classes and no time to run to their new home in Alpine.
“In the car. I’m in a hurry. We’re just now heading home.” It was nearly nine pm and clearly I wasn’t the only one having a long day.
“Want some salmon? Does Emily like salmon?” Aside from knowing that her favorite pizza is BBQ chicken with pineapple, I don’t yet know much about my new daughter-in-law’s taste in food.
“We both love salmon.”
“Here, take some home,” I say as I get up to wrap some still-hot salmon in foil.
“Thanks. We haven’t eaten since 11.”
I grab a paper plate instead and rustle up a plastic fork. There is only one, so they’ll have to share. They don’t mind. I can tell. Luke dishes up some peas and I feel content knowing that they’ll have something warm and good to tide them over.
“Bye. Tell Emily I said hi!” In my heart I just said, “I love you. Tell Emily I love her, too.”
I pack up the remainder of the salmon (my coworkers will still hate me tomorrow) and put away the peas, then head to my room. In truth, the dishes need to be done again and some of the chaos corralled back in, but I’m done for the day. My job is mentally challenging and today it was emotionally exhausting. I’m just done.
As I settle on my bed to get some writing done, I reach down to pull up my quilt. It’s the Underground Railroad quilt I made for my grandmother and inherited back from her when she passed away. My hands come up empty. I wander back into the living room to see if Kyle borrowed it. It’s there. Tossed over the arm of the sofa. I realize Luke must have fetched it for Emily and she would have curled up in it during their brief layover here earlier in the day.
This thought fills me with peace and contentment, even amidst the chaos. Maybe especially amidst the chaos. My life is not perfect. My home is not perfect. I am not perfect. But here is warmth and here is love. It’s in my heart. In my quilt. And in the simple and accepted offering of warm Teriyaki salmon and petite peas on a paper plate this cold, late October night.
The warmth and the love are often unnoticed, overlooked, or unappreciated for all the imperfection. But that does not diminish their worth. They’re constant. And happy are the hearts that allows them in.