Far Away

This past Sunday, DH drove our five-year old up to her grandmother’s house in Maine to spend the week. It’s not the first time she’s been away from us—she did the same thing last year too and various overnights here and there since she was two—but for some reason, this year, I’m the one feeling homesick

Perhaps it’s the sheer magnitude of transitioning my first-born into kindergarten this fall, the sudden realization that these slow-going, past-five-years actually have been careening by at mach-5 all along, or perhaps it’s because she so easily separated from me on Sunday. But whatever the reason, her absence has left a palpable void in our home and I miss her terribly!

It feels almost silly to admit such a weakness in constitution—afterall, I went away to boarding school at a very young age myself—but this acceleration in to the future, this glimpse of 13 years from now (11 if we elect also to send her to my beloved alma mater) is so bitter-sweet.

We’re on day four now and each evening around dinner time I call to inquire about her day. With the aptitude of a small adult and the cheerfulness of a young puppy, she bubbles over with an account of the day’s events. She describes raspberry picking, attending camp, walking around Mackworth Island, taming and feeding the resident chipmunk. It is a gift without monetary value. It is an experience with my mom I never thought she’d get to have.

Just seven years ago, I worried regularly that my mother—who developed a heart condition as a young child and wasn’t expected to live long enough even to see her own children grow up—would never get to meet my children. She was given a life expectancy of 30. She was still healthy at 37, when my parent’s divorced. The details beyond that are hazy for me (and my mother NEVER talks about her health issues); sometime in her early 40’s she had open heart surgery, resulting in a need to take some formidable medications. Over the years, there have been a few complications associated with this.

So, when our daughter was born in 2006, just miles from my mom’s house in Washington, DC, it moved me to tears that my mother was the first visitor to hold her.

Between the ages of seven and 16, I didn’t spend a lot of time with my mom. For four of those years she was living on the West Coast and the rest of the time she was a bus or train ride away in New England. My brother and I would visit her on occasional weekends, for a week or two each summer and for alternate holidays.

What I remember most about my mother during my early years was her deep love of nature. The walks she would take us on; the monarch caterpillars we would collect and bring home to raise into butterflies (back when Monarchs were in abundance to collect); the Thornton Burgess stories she would read to us about The Merry Little Breezes, Grandfather Frog and Mother West Wind; the adventures of staying in cabin-motels and exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the coastal waters of Cape Cod; the introduction to the world of faeries and the magnificent imagination (and very quirky sense of humor) my mother had (and continues to have) about everything.

Though I resented my mother for taking all of that with her when she left, they are my fondest memories of spending time with her and now I hear, in the tales my own child regales to me nightly, of the same magical exposure she’s having. The same love of nature and Maine and my mother she’s developing.

And though my heart aches from her absence, it also overflows with the abundance of this precious one-on-one time with my mom, something I longed for so often as a young child. Since my mom and I can’t go back and relive those years we spent apart, I am conciliated knowing my daughter is closing some of the gaps and getting closer every day.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. slightlywonky
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 14:24:45

    I love this post! I’m thrilled that grandmother/granddaughter time is helping not only both of them…but you as well! I’m not at all surprised that you’re missing your little girl! I think that will always be the case.


  2. Trackback: Kindergarten Eve « Growing Muses
  3. elizabeth
    Oct 18, 2011 @ 21:46:34

    Love this–for some reason, I missed it when you posted it. Just lovely.


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