It’s no secret that my heart breaks a little bit each time I say goodbye to my family. The distance is hard and even with time, lots of time, the distance doesn’t get any easier. The distance has shortened and lengthened and shortened again over the years, but it’s still there.
I can get to my parents’ house in 10 hours without stops. And it would take me a good two days to get to my brother’s house. But this is why we make it a point to have visits scheduled throughout the year. Our unspoken rule for the last decade has been that we don’t say goodbye to each other until we have another trip on the calendar.
Our next scheduled visit happens to be when they’re in the Greenville area this fall, and I’ll get up there to see them later this fall when I attend the Influence conference. And sometimes many months go by before we see each other, but we do what we can.
And we have been so fortunate this summer to have been able to spend two weeks at the beach with my family and with Todd’s family. We spent a week at Isle of Palms, South Carolina earlier this summer and we just returned from Orange Beach, Alabama.
Our trips aren’t full of plans. We eat lots of sandwiches and cook every night. We keep it easy for the boys and easy for us. We take naps on the porch and on the beach. And some days we stay in our pajamas until noon.
But each year, I’m more and more aware of how quickly time passes. And it’s more and more important to me to spend that time with people I love. To unplug and to just sit and laugh. Or just sit next to my mom while she’s reading her book and I’m reading mine.
Our family isn’t perfect and we have our share of squabbles. But we genuinely enjoy being near each other. We laugh at the same things and get each other’s jokes.
I can remember each time we left my grandparents’ house or a beach trip with my grandparents, they would always cry and my parents would cry. Sometimes I would cry, but I was a kid and didn’t really understand why everyone was crying.
There is more of an awareness now. An awareness of time. An awareness that babies grow quickly. And a sadness because I know they’ll have changed so much before we see each other again.
The time goes so quickly. I have a three year old now and it literally seems like he was a newborn yesterday. My parents don’t get to see him every day like I do. So I’m aware of how quickly the time must be passing through their eyes. And how it must feel to look at your almost 27 and 30 year old babies and wonder where on earth the time went?
We don’t have the luxury of living in the same cities. But these trips are so very precious to us all. My kids got an incredible week with their grandparents and we all got a week together. It was really wonderful.
So it’s hard to feel sad about the distance when we have times like this to look forward to.
But even with the promise of a great visit ahead on the calendar, I can’t stop the tears when we say goodbye. I still feel like the 9 year old being dropped off at summer camp. And the 17 year old being moved in to the dorm for college.
It’s part of life. And I’m thankful for it. But I’ll continue to check off the days on my calendar until I can hug them again.
May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.