My darling K,
Tomorrow it will be one week since our last parting. How many times have we said good bye over the past five years? It never ceases to come as a heart-wrenching, physically painful shock. No matter that I know the day of goodbye is coming from the moment I first arrive back home. No matter how much I prepare myself for it. It always hits me like a ton of bricks. When you were younger, you seemed to manage the actual goodbye better. I think because you hadn’t quite learned how to anticipate what was coming.
In the past year or two, you have also shown signs of knowing what’s coming in the lead up to the goodbye. Usually a day or so before my departure you have your first realisation, and with it some kind of reactionary mood or behaviour.
On the day of, I am always the one to break down crying first. You used to not cry, but you do nowadays. I always feel for you so. See, once we have managed to tear ourselves from each other’s hug, and I get in the taxi or uber, heading to the airport, you have only your grief, and whatever you manage to distract yourself with. At least I have a few hours of having to navigate check-in, security, passport control and boarding. Later, when I am, for the first time, alone with my emotions without anything to do, sat on the plane, I have had some time to absorb the initial emotional shock and pain. I can cry and grieve with some distance already existing between the brutal good bye and the remaining feelings. Not that this is easy for me, or any less unpleasant, or any less painful. But easier to process, make sense of, go through.
You, on the other hand, are left standing at the door, or in the driveway. There’s just the goodbye. All the emotions are there for you to bear at once. With nothing new, or no prospect of anything different, ahead of you. Everything just the same, only without me there. The emptiness and stark contrast must be unimaginably difficult to bear. And for such a young person, with so many fears, such need for his mom’s support.
Yet, you are incredibly brave and resilient. Tough as those initial moments and hours most certainly are on you, within a day or two, you have bounced back. You most certainly carry the longing, the missing, the incompleteness and the heartache with you. But, you manage to carry on. You manage to get back to being you. Wonderful, strong, excited, happy, engaged, beautiful you. And soon. So much sooner than me.
I return to a life you are not missing from, because you have never been a physical presence here. You are of course always missing from me, and I miss you and who I am with you, intensely and unceasingly. But in my daily life here, unlike yours there, exists no gaping hole where you were just a few short hours or days ago.
You deal with all the heartache, grief and longing for me that I do for you. And on top of that, you deal with facing the gap where I was.
And you do so like a champion. Despite all you face and all you carry, or perhaps because of it, you remain and continue to grow more caring, considerate and thoughtful. Your empathy and insight far surpass that of anyone your age, and indeed many adults, I know.
You are an inspiration to me.