Wednesday, November 4, 2015

When Absence Doesn't Make the Heart Grow Fonder....

     You love home.  You miss the faces.  You miss the sights and sounds.  What happens when all that goes away?  What does it mean when absence makes the heart grow colder or even hostile instead of fonder?
    For so long I held home and family in this tightly guarded place in my heart.  It felt safe to spread my wings, because they would always be there just as I left them, waiting for me.  And for a while that was true.  Gradually I noticed the changes.  On one homecoming, mom and dad seemed so much grayer than I remembered.  There were marriages and births and these new faces changed the family dynamics.  Then the sudden passing of a loved one and then another and another.  Little quarrels among this or that person that were so small two decades ago when my travels began, have grown and grown until they can no longer be overlooked and there is no hope of repairing the rift. 
    For the last few years each homecoming has been sadder and sadder as I face the empty places at the table and the dangling conversations with people who were once like sisters and now are strangers.  Children who used to run to hug me, now keep a shy distance.  Chatter ceases when I enter a room; I am not privy to the confidences of the inner circle.... but then again I am not burdened by the drama either.  So, it is a blessing and a curse. 
    My family and I have always dreamed of settling down in some rural haven where we know everyone and they know us.  But the longer we live in transition, the more we must contend with the very addictive nature of the gypsy lifestyle and all the promise of greener grass in the next city, new adventures always on the horizon.
    When friendships fizzle, no worries, we'll be leaving soon and meeting lots of new people.  And of course, there is that wonderful chance to reinvent who I am in each new place.  No one is holding on to the person any of us were before now.  They know only us as we are now.  
  There was a time when I desperately tried to stay connected with everyone back home.  But, after a while the e-mails responses grew fewer and the cards and gifts stopped coming on the holidays, and people moved on.  That's what people do; it's normal.  But, we hadn't moved on yet and it was especially painful to see my children, so desperate for reminders of home, finding they had been forgotten.   My heart ached for them.  It ached for me.  I wanted to hold on to what we used to have and I found myself unable to enjoy the present for clinging to the past.
    And then it happened.  I made a decision to let go.....

        For the first time in my life I opted to care less.  I realized that I no longer had to intervene when auntie Jay was fighting with auntie Kay.  It didn't hurt that grandma Elle didn't send the girls birthday cards again this year, but posted lots of pics of her special birthday dinners with the other grand kids.  Cousin Em is having marriage drama? No one is burdening me with all the sordid details.  My life became less complicated and more enjoyable, so I decided to share my newfound appreciation for our strange and simple life with the rest of my little family.
    It began with the affirmation that "home" was no longer that faraway place, it was right here, wherever here happened to be at the moment.  As long as we are together, we are home.  We stopped writing letters we knew would not be answered.  We stopped pouring over special gifts to send to people who would never acknowledge receiving them let alone reciprocate.  I stopped posting photos of our adventures and updates about our lives on Facebook.   The people that truly love us already know all those things, because they make a point to keep in touch.  We extinguished the torch we'd carried for those holiday traditions and delicacies found at big family gatherings and decided to make our own.  We chose our favorites from the past and added a few new dishes and activities we'd always wanted to try to make something uniquely ours.
    The absence from our old friends and extended family brought a lot of heart ache with it.  But, wounds heal and hearts adapt.  Rather than sink, we chose to grow.  Building our own life and our own sense of home, letting go of what once was, and releasing those we'd tried to hold in that place in our hearts, it liberated us too.   Do I still miss "home"?  In a sense, yes.  I miss that place that used to be and the people that lived there, but that's all just a memory, and I can't live in memories.  I've chosen to be present in this life as it is and where it is.  Letting go of the past has opened so many possibilities.  Now there is something so much better in its place and this home belongs just to us.


  1. Well put! I live far from "home" and I can identify so much!

  2. You are very wise for one so young....well said and well written down. I understand totally what you have been through.


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