Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Many Miles

We've had visitors come and go, and it's always sad to have friends and family say goodbye, knowing that it could be several months, maybe even years before we see each other again. However, when my Mother and Sister left yesterday for their flight back to California, it was particularly heartbreaking. The goodbye was neither melodramatic nor tearful, the surface hiding a belly full of turmoil and mixed emotions. It left me feeling incredibly sad and empty. I was still in my pj's when the taxi showed up at 2:30PM, so I couldn't carry Stella down the stairs and out on the stoop to wave goodbye - "bye-bye". It's just as well, as something tells me my Mother did not need to drag it out either. Instead, I held Stella close to my breast as we peered out the window from our 4th floor walk-up and pointed at Grandma and Auntie Paloma getting into the gypsy cab. We were all alone, back to our isolated little lives, in our tiny, little apartment, on opposite coasts, so very, very far from a family member's helping hand and open heart.

Stella is the first Grandchild for both my parents and in-laws. My husband and I have seen tremendous love and adoration fill our parents hearts with her arrival into our lives. Since day one, watching them take intense joy in her every little move and murmur has taught me how truly special the role of Grandparent is. We were blessed with wonderful parents who are very important and close to us, yet we have chosen to live in a different state, far from their regular attention and involvement in our life. Not for the first time, I have found myself questioning why we live so far, and feeling guilt that I might be a bad parent for keeping Stella so far from my and Dan's family.

I so want her to have a rich relationship with our Mothers and Fathers, one that I didn't get to experience with my own Grandparents who were in Washington State and Chile or Argentina. I have a handful of childhood memories but unfortunately no deep understanding of who these people were, due to the fact that our lives were not fully integrated. I don't want to rob my daughter of this valuable opportunity to bond with her family and have a link to older generations. I want her to grow up nourished by more than just her Mommy and Daddy's love and support, but also the instruction, insight, and positive values that can only be imparted by her much more experienced elders.

Our Moms and Dads deserve her love and respect and youthful (very youthful) companionship. How can I dare keep them from each other and how strong do I think I am, to not realize how much I need their help, too?

My Mother always said I was her free spirit, full of confident independence, lacking worldly fear. I have prized my freedom and the trust my parents always gave me. With their support, I have felt free to travel and plant temporary roots without having misgivings about our physical distance. There were no guilt trips, and usually just praise for my adventurous roaming.

It was often during my travels, when all my life's belongings could be carried on my back, and my vanity would fade and slowly disintegrate (like that staple black t-shirt that seemed to be worn and washed as frequently as I showered), that I would mentally peel my life down to a golden kernel of understanding. That was a moment when all that mattered was love, family and friends, and that deep realization, finally felt in my core, made me crave 'home'. I would come to envy all those who grew up and lived life under the umbrella of an extended family, and surrounded by the same friends from early childhood. Instead of viewing this type of tightly knit history as oppressive, I would finally come to see it as warm and comforting, as opposed to smothering.

I don't know what the solution is. I know that every minute shared with loved ones is a gift to be cherished. My weekend with my Mom and Sis was a lot of fun, and a lot of help. Stella was spoiled in the best possible way. Daniel and I know that being far from family is a sacrifice. We could change this by making a big move, BUT we can't seem to conquer our lack of desire to live in Naples, Florida or Los Angeles, California. Our back and forth, flip-flopping discussions on that topic are best saved for another story. Until we can decide where we are meant to be, I must come to terms with the path we've chosen. I will continue to question whether we are doing right by Stella, and remind myself that we are all connected by a deep love, no matter how many miles might divide us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Sarah,
You said so well what I am feeling. Though our time difference is only 3 hours, I've felt like I am suffering from jet lag these past two days. But I know that what I'm really feeling is separation anxiety from three very special people, you, Dan and Stella. Pablo, Adrian and my colleagues all asked "How was your trip? How was it being with Stella?" How can I possibly express the feeling of being bathed in the pure, bright light of Stella's smile, Stella's laugh, and Stella's eyes, the thrill of watching Stella keep perfect beat with a personally choreographed dance that makes everyone want ot immitate her , or the joy of playing chase with a crawling speedster. It all sounds so insignificant, but in my reality it was brilliant.
She reminded me so much of you, Sarah. Parts of your childhood that I had forgotten came back to mind. I particularly remember the times Pablo and I sat around with our neighbors and just watched "baby" you. In hind sight it semed a little weird, and yet. here I was again, just sittting around watching Stella with the same fascination.
This weekend was wonderful, too, being with adults who shared my penchant for the small things, just enjoying each other's company and sharing delicious home-cooked meals.
I try not to think about the amount of time that will pass before we are together again. I just pray that your family remains healthy and happy, I love you all so very much, Mom

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First thing Tuesday morning upon returning to work I surfed to your blogspot. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read "Many Miles". It has taken me a few days to get the courage to write a response.

Being with the four of you this past weekend meant so much me. You, Dan, Mom and Stella are some of my favorite people in the whole world and not just because you are my family. You each bring so much incite, joy, love and wisdom into my life. We laughed, we smiled, we ate delicious food, we danced and most importantly we played! Stella has reminded us all about the excitement of discovering the world and people around us with extra glee. She is a gentle and kind traveller like her mommy and daddy. I can still see her gleaming eyes, five-tooth-smile, and open palms waving "bye-bye". This image leaves me simultaneously melancholy and super happy. What a gift to have spent those five days with each of you.

Whatever you and Dan decide just know that I will make the effort to see you three. The missing has commenced, but it is no different than after you turned sixteen and left for college. I wanted you to stay and help me grow up, but I was also so very proud of you and continued to keep you close to my heart. Distance is only physical space and can be overcome.

I love you!

~ Little Sis/AuntiePaloma

11:08 PM  

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