Friday Letter to my Kids -August 29, 2014-
Dear J, J, L and L,
I hate goodbyes.
Doesn’t matter what kind. Short, long-term, temporary, indefinite. They all bite. Some goodbyes leave a gaping wound that take what feels like forever to heal. Others keep hurting even after all evidence of injury disappears.
I’ve had my fill of goodbyes, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep getting another serving glopped on my plate. Whatever. Let’s shift gears a little. Here’s a song to start off my thoughts today.
Your Dad started traveling for work back when you were just tiny things. In fact his first stint away from home occurred when Big J was only three months old. We’re not talking a week away. Month’s after saying “see ya later” I finally saw him again, around Christmas time. He’d grown this full-on hideous beard that looked like he’d been standing in the wind for too long, all growing to one side. Then he had to go again, and again and again.
You’d think I’d have gotten used to goodbyes. He’d be gone for weeks. Or months. Or just a few days. But every time carried its share of empty yuck, sadness and loneliness. Even just last year when he drove off for Sacramento, I felt a part of me drop away and sink to the floor in wracking sobs, as the physical part of me stood there waving cheerfully.
Oh sure, I learned independence and self-reliance. My coping muscles as a semi-single parent surely rippled with six-pack abs and bulging biceps. Hahahaha, there’s an odd image for you, huh?
Why do I bring this up?
One of you says “adios” to your spouse today for three months. My heart aches for you. I may not feel your pain, but I remember all too clearly what mine felt like. Knowing you feel something like that makes me hurt for you and with you. It’s a mom thing, I suppose.
You’ll do fine. You’ll rock this challenge. You’ll find strength you didn’t know you had. Sure, there will be long nights, long days, emptiness and exhaustion, but you’ll be okay. I promise.
Another one of you is the one who leaves on those long business trips. That can’t be easy. I have no idea how it must feel stuck in a boring hotel room night after night, to be the one in another city away from your sweetheart. How you both manage without each other boggles my mind, especially since it’s been this way since a month or two into your marriage.Add in that this weekend I’m helping another one of you pack up for your big move out-of-state. I try not to think about when I’ll have to say goodbye to you in a few more days. I’m happy beyond reason for your new adventures, but so sad to know you won’t be at our table on random evenings, won’t be playing “Settlers” with us, may not make it back for holidays for a while. I’ll miss our random lunch dates and having you hang out on the couch for mom time. I don’t even know when I’ll see you next in real life. I’m trying not to think about it.
Yesterday I got this sweet video text that brought one of your lives smack dab into the middle of my living room. Just for a few moments the distance between here and where you are shrunk to almost nothing. But then, I found my arms aching for holding, my chest pounding for a hug, my need for immediate access to an airplane like a drug addiction withdrawal. No matter how long you live far away I don’t get used to it. I still miss you every single day.
Thank goodness for the internet and social media. Back when Dad first started traveling that stuff hadn’t evolved yet. We racked up huge long distance phone bills, mailed handwritten letters. Weird to imagine now.
Lucky you with your skyping, texting, Facebook, instant messaging and email. Lucky me, since I can utilize those things to stay in touch with each of you as well. Makes the world smaller and goodbyes more manageable.I’m praying for each one of you. Not that there’s anything new there. My heart has this sort of constant litany of recitations for your safety, your happiness, your health. You are all, each of you, always on my mind. I always miss you, wonder about you, wish the best for you. That’s true even if you’re only a couple of miles away, and certainly when you’re hundred of miles or more in the distance.
The word goodbye has its origins in the phrase “God be with you,” and serves as a contraction, a shortened version of that blessing. When I say Goodbye, often that’s what I’m really feeling. God be with you carries more power and serves as a kind of incantation or benediction over the leave-taking. You’d think I’d gone stark raving nuts if I started saying “God be with you,” so I’ll just quietly think those words in my head as my mouth says a regular goodbye. How does that sound?
Sure they cut those umbilical cords ages ago. And certainly the apron strings also severed years back. But heart-strings remain attached forever no matter what you do or how far you go.
God be with you in whatever life offers you this week and beyond.
All my love,
“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.” ~ Dr. Seuss
This was both heartbreaking and beautiful. One of your best yet. Thank you.