“So who will wake me up every morning while you are gone?”
“And who will make my lunches?”
“And who will be here when I get home from school every day?”
“And who will help me with my homework?”
“And who will kiss me goodnight every night?”
It doesn’t matter that I haven’t been away from home in more than a month. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t missed a moment in her world in what seems like ages. What matters to my sweet girl at this very moment is that I’m packing. And there will be a tomorrow that doesn’t look like today. She wants more of the same. She wants to turn around and see me there, not because I’m the only one who can make lunches or do homework, but because my presence matters to her.
Like having a shadow, I just am.
My chest is getting tighter with each of her questions. Her chocolate eyes are locked on my face, waiting for an answer that meets her approval. I can feel the tears starting to swim behind my eyes. I wonder for what seems like the 837th time if she knows that I hate leaving her just as much as she hates it when I go.
It never gets easier. Not when the travel is frequent or when there has been a long time in between.
I crawl into bed next to her, wanting to hold her as she drifts off to sleep. She reaches up and touches my face, “I’m going to miss you, my Mommy.” I close my eyes so she doesn’t see my tears have surfaced. I hold her, aware that my heart is beating outside my chest….and it has for nine years.
It is only going to be four days. We’ll survive as we always do.
We will talk every day.
She’ll send me an email that will both fill me up and break my heart.
I will cry myself to sleep the last night I’m away after hearing that my softball girl is back – and I missed it. She will finally conquer her fear of the plate while I’m gone.
And I will fly home, a delayed flight keeping me from making both her soccer game and his, but fully aware I will wake Saturday morning with two small people in my bed and they will spend the day, as they always do when I’ve been gone, constantly reaching out to touch me – my hand, my face, my lap…. my small shadows reunited.
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