“And this is where my porch swing will go,” I told anyone and everyone who stopped by my house to check my husband’s progress on our front porch.

In truth, I wasn’t sure whether a swing would fit in the narrow alcove at the end of the porch Dana was building – let alone whether we’d have enough money to buy it after paying for all those boards and beams. But in August, just as my husband was hanging the mudroom door for the anticipated arrival of our oldest son and his sweetheart from California, I happened to spot a second-hand swing for sale just down the river. It fit perfectly.

The only odd thing were the springs to hang it from the ceiling.

“Springs?” my husband asked the man who was selling it.

“Trust me,” the man said, “they make all the difference.”

The first time I sat in the swing I understood why. Boing! Boing! Boing! Up and down I flew like I was riding a ball.

“It’s a bouncy seat for adults!” I whooped loud enough to likely alarm my neighbors.

The swing quickly became the highlight of our summer – the place our children and their friends laughed and talked in the cool evening air as crickets serenaded the coming fall. And what satisfaction, eavesdropping from just inside the kitchen window, to see them all having so much fun – like when the older kids would jump off mid-swing to launch their 7-year-old brother “to the moon,” rocketing him into the air.

“This will be the soundtrack of their childhood,” I said to my husband late one night, swinging side-by-side as the springs squeaked under our weight. “They will remember this sound forever.”

Who would have thought such a simple object could bring so much joy? The swing is the perfect place to welcome the morning and read a few pages from my Bible. It’s the place to rest in the middle of the day and rock away my troubles. And in the evening, as fast as I sit down, I’m almost guaranteed that another somebody will soon sit beside me. Creak, creak, creak, the springs screech as we watch finches dart over the garden stealing beakfuls of Swiss chard or listen to the neighbors sing as they walk their dogs up the road.

Yet, this week, when I peeked out the kitchen window, the swing sat empty. Our oldest son and his newly won bride-to-be were retracing their 3,000-mile drive across the country. Earlier that morning, our second-oldest had loaded his VW Rabbit and pulled out of the driveway for his senior year of college.

“Don’t worry Mom,” our youngest son said when I mentioned how much I missed them. “I’ll stay right here.”

But much as I love the comfort of his long, leggy body curled against mine as we swing after pulling beets and hunting for cucumbers in our garden, I want him and the rest of our children to go wherever God calls them. Judah and Hannah (Congratulations!), Gabriel, Lydia, Asher and Ezra, live the adventure! Share your gifts! It’s your turn now!

Wherever the journey leads, the swing will be waiting.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the Lantern Hill Farm picture book series, celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith.