Leaving New Orleans again is like cutting out a piece of himself, but this time, there is no anger, no bitterness. Instead, he makes seven promises to write or call, finds himself drawn into more hugs than he can count, and watches all the precious goodbyes with his children.

"C'mere, y' rascal!" Henri catches a shrieking Liv in an iron grip.

"An' y' too," Tante Mattie's voice echoes behind him, and Remy spins around to be caught in one last hug. It means more than the rest. "Go home, Remy," she says. "But never forget t' come back here again."