“Mom, listen. Do you hear that?” “No, David. What?” “Nothing, the house is quiet.” He was right. The house is quiet- wrongly quiet. Yesterday our oldest daughter flew back to Texas to spend the school year with her biological mother. All day I have been carrying Kylie’s absence around like a weight within me. It started the minute she and Kenny drove off for the airport. Our oldest son felt it then too. As I tried to stop tears and un-fog my glasses and hold on to the memory of holding her, Cody was wiping tears too. He slipped off to the bathroom and though he came back dry eyed, he was subdued. We went bowling to distract everyone, but her ghost caught up to us on the way out. When I looked around to be sure I had all the kids, my heart lurched, because for a moment I saw her- standing right where she would be, closest to me, close enough that I didn’t even really need to look for her because she was always there. For a minute my mind manufactured her dressed in purple, looking up at me, and my stomach lurched because I had to tell my mind “no, she’s not supposed to be there,” even though my heart was screaming that she really was. I felt it again when I decided to make brownies and my first thought was to call Kylie, with her eagerness to help me, but I couldn’t. Dallas felt it at dinner when he finished setting the table then realized he would have to put Kylie’s place setting back. He curled his knees up to his chest and cried. The sadness was Elliana’s last word as she fell asleep tonight. She was sitting beside me on the couch as we read and suddenly she burst out “I miss Kylie!” (Words she had already said immeasurable times today.) Then she fell over onto her side and I thought she was about to have a temper tantrum, but when I looked, she was sound asleep. So, we are all carrying Kylie’s absence with us. Elliana carries it in words, David carries it in silence. Dallas carries it in his body, with tears and hunched posture. Cody carries it in his mind- with thoughts churning past in his face and eyes, coming out in questions and worries: “Have they landed?” “Do you think they are safe?” We are all together in the pain of this separation, and by all, I mean all. I am sure Kylie feels it most of all. What I don’t ever want is for her to feel guilty for the fact that we miss her. Dallas and I talked tonight about how this sadness we feel is one of the reasons God hates divorce. When I took her out for ice cream Friday night I told Kylie how much I would miss her, but that I would be happy knowing about all the fun she is going to have this year, and that she is enjoying seeing her mother. I don’t ever want Kylie to feel bad that she can’t be in two places at once; because that’s not a division she should ever have had to face. I love that girl, I’m honored to be in her life, and I hate the hole in our family when she’s not here- the hole in sibling relationships, and in our family’s personality, but I believe God has a way to use even this for our family and children’s good- to teach them to hold Him dearer. Sometimes God speaks loudest in the silences.