'Emigration is heartbreaking but there is nothing to beat the joy of your child coming home'
Mum Barbara Scully writes about the morning when her eldest daughter Carla returned home from Western Australia.
It's Friday and we are nearly organised. It has been a whirlwind of mounting excitement all week.
There has been spring cleaning and reorganising. Spaces to be cleared and 'stuff' of various varieties put back to more or less how they were left just over three years ago. The weekly shopping list has to be adjusted to accommodate the personal tastes and preferences of herself. The dog, who will be subjected to a huge hug, may even be given a bath in honour of the occasion.If we lived a century ago, in the countryside I would imagine we would be whitewashing the outside of the house. Instead we will string a banner across the front room window. It will say, 'WELCOME HOME'.
On Monday morning, Carla, the eldest, will (please God) arrive safely home, all the way from Western Australia. She left these shores in June 2011 and although she has returned twice before, each homecoming is a huge event.On Sunday night as we all go to bed early in advance of a very early trip across the city, I will punch her flight number into the Flight Radar app on my phone and check if it's taken off yet from Abu Dhabi. Monday morning and the alarms will go off extra early. I will check my phone again. Please God flight EY045 should be over the UK and headed west.
More excited that if we were all heading off on holidays ourselves, we will dress quickly and tumble into the car. Roisin and Mia were very much children when Carla took flight. They are now 15 and 13 respectively and will both now be taller than their big sister. But they are going to savour every moment of having her actually here to provide much valued advice on a huge range of things that consume teenage girls.If we time it right, we should be coming around the back of the airport just in time to see the big bird, which has flown all the way from the desert lands of the Middle East, touch down.Carla finds my continued fascination with travel very quaint. As manager of a travel agency in Perth, she travels frequently.
I am old-school and the relative ease of travel across such huge distances still blows me away.Once it has landed the longest wait begins; every blonde head that bobs among the crowd causes my stomach to flip.
This will be the first summer homecoming. We are praying for good weather so that Ireland will look her best - even in the eyes of someone who carries the essence of this country in every cell of her body. We have booked a few days away in the beauty of Kerry.
We have plans for extended family gatherings and quiet afternoons just spent over a pot of tea, talking and talking and talking. Her sisters have plans to take her for a Rainbow Run in the Phoenix Park, go-karting and of course shopping. They have endured three years of shopping with me who 'hasn't a clue'.
It will probably be around about eight thirty when we see her. And we will all simultaneously rush forward and dissolve into tears. That first hug after long months apart is indescribable. It is simply the purest hug ever.We hear so much about the heartbreak of emigration. The distances our children travel today - in search of jobs, adventure, a new lifestyle - are so huge.
Of course it breaks your heart. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing that even comes near to the excitement of the anticipated arrival of your child home.
Once I know she has left Perth, the excitement will ratchet up. Then I can almost feel her getting closer to home, to me. But that final hour, getting closer and closer to Dublin is beyond description. Knowing that the 9,000 miles that normally separate us is shrinking is just the most amazing, unadulterated joy that builds and builds.
Until that final delicious moment when I know it's her blonde head in the arrivals hall and I open my arms and hug her, holding her tightly to me. And she is home.