Friday, March 09, 2007
Covering the Miles Between Us
I'm just home from the airport. Right about now I expect Sarah and Chris are developing a good case of Twitchy Eye, brought on by flying with three small children missing their naps.

We've been apart all of two hours. I already miss them. It surprises me to realize Sarah and I have lived apart the past 13 years. We're 'used to it'. Our love for each other covers the miles between us. We both know that feeling we'll get when we say goodbye. We hate it, do it fast to get it over with. Much like grabbing the bandaid, over the scab, and pulling quickly. Usually, a little of you comes with it. I feel like Feivel, standing at the window singing his heart out. Will the love go out, across the miles, and will they be Somewhere Out There, wishing on the same stars? Cornball I know, but I swear I do this. Except for the standing at the window, funny ears, being all furry part.

We had The Perfect Visit in every way. The only thing wrong with it was that it was A Visit. We're separated, apron strings cut long ago, as they should be. 'Should be' just doesn't always feel good. Tomorrow morning our house will be quiet. I'll go downstairs to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I'll let the dog out and stand at the backdoor. Stop for a minute, listen to the sounds of birds busy with their nest building. I'll grab my Bible and settle into my chair to start my day. It will feel right, because it is. Sarah will wake up too early, little people standing by her bed, hungry, wet diapers, demanding her attention. She'll hear baby-talk, or the voice of an exuberant 5 year old, yakking away faster than her brain will be awake enough to absorb. That will, I imagine, feel right to her. (Hopefully she won't think too much about my very calm, quiet morning...)

When I came home from the airport, Addison's pink sippy cup was sitting on the fridge shelf. Toys were scattered around the family room, piles of borrowed snow clothes that need laundering before they're returned. Books we read, crayons that had neat points on them, lined up in the box, now peeled and broken off, playdough that just days ago was in four jars, four separate colors; now one big lump of red, green, yellow, blue smushed together, looking a bit like a globe. All were scattered about the house. Much like The Three Bears fable, everywhere I turned were signs they'd been here. The quiet that greeted me made it clear, they are gone again.

The first time the nest empties is almost physically painful. That tightness in your chest as you, or they drive away. It's grace that you don't know then, all the other times they'll flit back home, and fly away again. Each one, when it's their time. There's something sacred about the left behind traces of those you love, much like tiny feathers scattered across the back yard, signs of young ones leaving. A baby spoon in the dishwasher bin produces a lump in my throat. Throwing out unused baby cereal is difficult. Putting away dinosaurs, building blocks. Washing sheets, knowing they'll come out of the dryer smelling like fabric softener instead of those I love. If they could package that smell - 'those I love' into little dryer sheets, they'd really have something, for it's far more precious than the smell of lavendar or rainwater, or cotton. That's it. I miss the smell of them, the sound of them, the scattered signs of their presence, the feel of them here in our home, our nest.

Yet, this is as it should be. Separate nests. Ours emptying, theirs full to overflowing.

Yesterday we woke up to a fresh coating of snow. Papa, who had taken the day off, gave sled rides up and down the driveway, while Chris worked for hours rolling up every snowflake the lawn's covering would yield. The last of the carrots were already sliced up in homemade chicken noodle soup. Mr. Frosty was adaptable, agreeing to sport a zucchini schnazola.

Caiden and Chris climbing around the woods behind our house, discovered an old tree house and came upon 3 deer. We roasted marshmallows and made smores in the family room fireplace before bedtime, and yes, the sugar fix made it much more fun settling down the little people.

This morning Sarah and I headed to the local coffeeshop for breakfast quiche, rich coffees, and the catch-up conversation women so enjoy. I tried to soak it all in, store it up for later days when I will miss the sight of her sitting across from me. The time is so precious, yet what I miss is the casual crossing of our lives. Can I have both? Can precious be casual? Or vice versa? I found myself trying to absorb the grey-blue of her eyes, where the few freckles are sprinkled across her cheeks, how her bangs fall down her forehead. To remember when it's been too long since we've been together. She was unaware. Or maybe she did the same with me. We dragged ourselves away, to the frame shop with her birthday stitchery.

Back home, I spotted 15 turkeys hanging out in the neighbor's driveway. Quickly carrying Caiden across the yard, I explained to him that's what they look like before they end up on your Thanksgiving table. At the last possible minute, they packed up half the house, loaded it into the car and we were headed to the airport, with Caiden already in deep mourning. He told me he prefers Pennsylvania over Texas, because we have deer, turkeys, squirrels, birds, smores, and snow. And grandparents who take vacation days to pull him up and down the slushy driveway, or play Candyland.

Inside the airport, they were a caravan of kid-stuff, carseats, strollers, diaper bags, etc. I stayed with them as long as possible, in my role of pack mule. When it was time for final goodbyes, I went down the line, giving everyone one last kiss and hug. I hurried as I felt tears coming on, feeling too exposed to the eyes of other passengers standing in line. Sarah and I barely made eye contact, just a quick hug and kiss goodbye. As if we'd see each other in a few days.

Then I bent down over this precious five year old with the long face. I announced, "one last kiss". He obliged, flashed those big blue eyes at me, grinned and said, "Grammy, one last hug." We hugged, tight and long. I turned and walked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I saw a few tiny feathers from our nest, fluttering in the wind. I kept going. I know love covers the miles that lie between us, and they'll fly back home now and then. It's as it should be. It's right.


  posted at 10:36 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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