Twenty-four hours until the plane’s wheels touch down on the tarmac and I’m temporarily four states away.

Today, children at the breakfast table, and because I’m about to part from them, I’m not noticing the residue that sometimes preoccupies me — crumbs and rinds of toast and the sticky half-rings left behind by sloshing glasses and the knowledge that any real clearing up that’ll get done will get done by me.

For — I have been suddenly struck blind.  The short, delicious curve of a mouth.  Bones, knit magically together; the lovely planes of cheekbones.  Feathery eyebrows!  Skin that’s had no truck with time or trouble.

Youth is so beautiful.

How do we ever pull ourselves away?

We all know the story:  The mother, come across in the parking lot outside the childcare center, leaned up against her car and weeping.  She has just dropped off her six-week-old, or three-month-old, or two-year-old for the first time.  She is going back to work.  How can I do this? she cries.

It’s good for you, to get away, we console.  It’s good for them.  Everything will be ok.

All true, of course.

But still.  Youth is so beautiful.  How do we ever pull ourselves away?