They say reality bites.
When my brother and his family left for Oman last August, we knew the separation would be difficult. We had been preparing all summer for the day that they would leave. Many tears were shed and hugs were plentiful, but we all agreed that time would fly by until next summer when we would all be together again. Between Skype calls and Facebook, we’d make it.
While we knew it would be difficult, I don’t think any of us expected it to actually be so hard, if that makes any sense. I surely never expected it to hurt so much.
A simple drive through Eden Prairie a few weeks ago, where they used to live, was when reality jumped up and bit me. Occasional tear-ups ensued over the next day or two which was followed by a complete and total meltdown (something I hate and can count on one hand the actual meltdowns I have had in my adult life. Not a fan of being an emotional wreck.)
Driving home from Target, a favorite haunt of my sister-in-laws and mine, the waterworks started and didn’t stop. I drove home through blinding tears (in retrospect I should have pulled over) and cried until there were no more tears.
I missed them all so much but I was missing my sister-in-law Michelle the most.
Somewhere over the years we had transitioned from in-laws to friends, from friends to one of my very best friends. From one of my best friends to someone I relied on for laughs, advice, and comfort. She had become one of the rocks in my inner circle.
Sometimes we would talk daily, other times not for a week or so. Sometimes we might go a month or more without seeing each other but I always took comfort in the fact that she was just a phone call away. At any time I could hop in my car and be there for one of her amazingly warm, heartfelt hugs. Hugs like no other.
Now, that was gone. Who knew several thousand miles and a 10 hour time difference could throw a such a wrench into a person’s life? Yeah, reality really does bite.
Since the meltdown, on any given day I find myself missing each and every one of them more and more.
I miss my nephew Joey’s smile, a rare smile that literally lights up a room. He makes everyone else around him smile. His love for family is unparalleled.
I miss my nephew Jake’s sense of humor and his passion for whatever he’s into at the moment (currently skateboarding.) With both of us being the oldest in the family, we kind of “get” each other.
I miss how my niece was just beginning to really be one of us “girls.” She loves to wear dresses, shop, and eat chocolate yet at the same time will chase down a snake or an insect of any kind. We aren’t sure where she gets that.
I miss my youngest nephew’s nonstop chatter and story telling. He can make us laugh till we cry and has on several occasions. He stated a few weeks ago that he is ready to go back to Minnesota. My heart melted.
My brother? I just plain miss him.
With the holiday season fast approaching, the entire extended family is feeling the pain of the distance between us, yet we are comforted in the fact that we will be them in six more months. However painful at the moment, we know the separation isn’t permanent.
As for their experiences so far in Oman?
Their jobs are good and the kids have adjusted well to school.
They have a beautiful apartment with a view of the mountains. Their surroundings are breathtaking.
They have swam in the ocean, explored caves, camped in the mountains, and recently spent three days camping on the beach.
We take comfort in the fact that their family is making memories and gaining experiences that will last a lifetime.
We’ll keep the Kleenex box close throughout the season and we’ll probably have a couple of family Skype dates, which will no doubt ease the pain some. Maybe after the holidays it will be easier?
My heart goes out to everyone that will be separated from loved ones this holiday season. Whether temporary or permanent take some comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone.
I wish you safe travels and good times with friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving to all.