The Incorrigible Night Owl

September 16, 2004

In the blink of an eye

My parents are gone, and I am sad.

I awoke this morning around 4:05 and got up to see if, perhaps, I could catch them before they left, to say goodbye one more time. But they had already cleared out. I later found a note my mom had written at 3:45 as they were ready to walk out the door.

I always thought it was supposed to get easier the longer you'd been away from home and your family. I thought that, as you built your life in your new home, you would still miss them but have other things that took up your time and attention. Visits would be treasured but the separation at the end would be easily gotten over. So why is it that it has gotten harder and harder for me as the years go on?

After I first moved away I had no problem leaving my parents to come back to Oklahoma. Ten days was a sufficient amount of time for me to enjoy their company and then I was off without a backward glance. Now I have been here almost 8 years and it tears me up inside when the time comes for me, or them, to leave.

Maybe, in part, it has to do with my having children now. I think I am putting myself in both my kids' and my parents' shoes. My parents are smitten with both children, as I am, and I guess I am imagining how I would feel if I had to drive away and leave, knowing I wouldn't see the kids for three or four months; knowing that they would seem like completely different people next time they visited. And, from John Zachary's perspective, I know that he is wondering what happened, and I can't explain it to him. He loves my dad and he's probably wondering, "Hey, what happened to Grandpa?" So I'm sad for him because of that. Madalyn's old enough now that she can understand that Grandma and Grandpa live far away and that they had to go home but we'll see them again soon. But I always felt sorry for her when she was too young to "get" it because she was so attached to my mom and then, one day, poof! Grandma was gone.

Of course, I feel sorry for myself, too. I have no one here. Strike that -- I have no close friends or family members. I have acquaintances. I have a father-in-law who I see maybe once a month. Robert is my sole support and, though he does a stellar job, it's still tough. One can always use more support. And I don't even mean it in the sense of them doing things for me, or babysitting the kids. What I miss is just the dropping by to say hi, the conversations, the advice, the sharing of stories about the cute things the kids do.

It really is the little things I miss. One of the main things I always look forward to when I go home or they come here is just sitting and watching t.v. with them. I know that must sound odd to other people but it's the truth. The thought of sitting in the living room watching one of "our" shows makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and comforted.

And that 10-day trip I mentioned before that used to be enough? Nowadays it goes by in a flash. Sometimes I feel like a trip that short is not even worth making because you get all the heartache of leaving for something that goes by in the blink of an eye. My parents were here for ten days and seemed as though they left as soon as they got here. All the, months of anticipation and preparation and I woke up this morning and they were gone and it's like they were never even here. I don't think I even took a single picture during their visit.

I know I must sound like a selfish twit to some people. My parents live 1500 miles away and yet we see them 4-5 times a year. That's pretty amazing! I know people who live only six hours away from their parents and only see them for holidays. (Which I SO cannot fathom. I actually heard someone say once that it was just sooo much trouble to drive the kids four hours to visit her parents so she only went a couple times a year. If my parents lived only a four hour drive away? You can damned well bet we'd be there at least twice a month.) Anyway, when my parents arrived it had only been 2 months since we last saw them. And it will just be another 3 till we see them again. Not so bad for being halfway across the country, so what am I complaining for, right? It's just that it's not the same, seeing them for ten days every few months. We do our best but you can only squeeze so much life into a week and a half, you know? Yeah, it could be way worse, but it could also be way better. I don't think that anyone who is on good terms with their parents could blame me for wanting more.

And so I'm sitting here, trying not to cry as I write this, trying to keep my chin up and think about our visit to CA at Christmas, trying to convince myself that our overnight trip up to the OK State Fair next week is a satisfactory replacement for having my folks with us. I don't know if it's working, so far. I crash like this every time they leave. With any luck I will be able to schedule enough activities for the near future that I don't remain in a funk for too long. But stir-craziness, stress over the dire straits our finances are in, and missing my parents like mad on top of it? Not a good combination.

My parents have been on the road 9 hours now. They have probably made New Mexico already. They will go as far as just across the CA border, where they'll stop for the night. Tomorrow they'll get another early start and drive the remaining 6 hours home, arriving by lunchtime. And then they'd better start getting ready because I plan to stay another 3 weeks at Christmas. Until then I will keep my fingers crossed that we find some relief for our money woes, that I can make enough plans to keep myself distracted, and that I won't think too much about how things, visit-wise, are going to have to change once both kids are in school fulltime. Because that? Just will not be pretty.