My hands give one final push across the golden hair as I bend over giving an impossibly brief hug. I avoid Elias’ inquisitive, caring, big brown eyes and tell him I love him, I’ll see him soon. Aleutia’s farewell is even briefer, she copes by going within. I stare into her sea green eyes and connect briefly. I tell her I love her and she looks away while I step out the door.
Walking down the hallway, the emotion overcomes me and I hurry to get out of sight. I only have a few brief moments to let it all out. In my family, there is little tolerance for tears or self-pity. I believe, however, that emotions must be acknowledged, respected, and let go. I do not believe in dwelling on them, but I do believe in honoring them. In this case, I am a mother of a five and seven-year-old whom I’ve just sent off with their father for seven weeks. I let the volcano erupting in my heart overflow until all that I feel is ash inside. I pause, wipe away the tears, and crawl into the truck with my brother.
We leave Spokane, weaving through traffic that normally would have me on edge, but I am gone. My grounding is gone. The two cords that tethered me to the present, to my life, to all that I am, have been cut off – I’m adrift. My brother chats incessantly about anything that comes to mind, trying to distract me I’m sure. But, he does not realize that I’m already gone and he can’t reach me. I make subtle acknowledgements to keep him from worrying, but inside my heart is pounding, my breath is shallow and I’m simply concentrating on control.
My instincts are shouting at me, “Go back. Run. Go get those children. Take them and run.” Handing them over – especially to him – goes against every primitive maternal instinct in me. It’s not like they’re going down the block, or even across town, they’re going thousands of miles away. They are literally outside of my loving grasp and will be for seven weeks. The numbness sets in and I rejoin the world in the way that I do while they’re gone. Never really present, never really accounted for – merely functioning. And, for some reason, many people don’t get that.
That’s the hard part. Why is it so difficult to understand that this is not party time for me? “Just enjoy the break. Take a vacation. Have a fling.” These are the kinds of platitudes conveyed to me when I tell people my kids are gone. The fact is, what I do is survive. This is the fourth summer, however, and I am determined to get some things accomplished. This morning I reviewed three manuscripts in my mind and settled on the one I will tackle. Also, I must edit and get out the first manuscript. I should also make a note to add a blog post more than once a quarter.
Bella is at my feet. We’ve been out for a long walk, I’ve had my coffee on the deck with her. Our workday has begun. Right now, I have one mission – to make it till next Tuesday when I can mark off week one.