B57PqNmCMAAASdlFor the first time since I waited for my parents to arrive, the night before my second brain surgery, sitting on my couch and gnawing my nails to the quick…I am alone in my little apartment.

I’m unpacking slowly, drinking out of all the familiar, too-cutesy mugs — the scratchy black “M” from Target, the one that looks like a chevron sweater — and hearing the swish of the dishwasher on my Pyrex casserole dish, which I’d left occupied in the fridge.

Soon I’ll chop smoked sausage and potatoes for a winter casserole in that dish, soon I’ll curl up under my cloudy white faux-down comforter and go to sleep. Tomorrow I’ll go for a walk in the morning cool, because I’m not allowed to run. I’ll fill out the paperwork to renew my lease here — to live somewhere for more than a year, for the first time in what feels like so long.

My heart aches because I miss my loud family and our menagerie of animals and the subtle beauty of home — only beautiful because it’s home — but that’s beauty in itself, that’s the glory of scattering your heart all over, of loving things you cannot hold in your hands at the same time.

And I’m thinking now about the way this is all grace, the bags and boxes of Christmas gifts still stacked on my worn leather couch, the plans for the weekend, for the week ahead, the life, the being alive.

Welcome home.