…… was easier, and more difficult, than I expected. I had a wonderful time with 5 of my 6 children, though if you count my future son-in-law (and I do), then I had 6 out of 7.
It was nice to be back on the farm, where Jim grew up. Nice …… and difficult. But after almost 8 years …… more nice than difficult.
It was great to spend time with his two brothers, their wives and our niece. I never, ever, feel like I’m an outsider when I’m with his family. We were together almost 27 years, so that makes his family my family. And they’ve never, EVER made me feel differently.
I love them for that.
And yet …… that man has left a huge hole. And so did his mother, when she died four months after he did.
It’s not the same, of course.
But it’s still good.
So why do I always end up crying at the end of the holiday? And why do I always feel that I need to hide my tears from everyone?
Son #1 and I arrived at the farm on Wednesday evening. Son #2 and #3 were staying there with us, and with Jim’s dad. Daughters #2 & #3, Little Bit and Future Son-in-Law were staying at Jim’s youngest brother’s house. So we didn’t see them until Thanksgiving Day, when we all met up at his house.
It was so wonderful to just hang with all of them. All of us related because of Jim and because of love.
Son #3 left on Friday to head back to school for the big game that we won’t talk about.
I was sad to see him go, but I’ll see him soon in Texas.
Jim’s brother, his wife and our niece also headed back to California that day. And I was sad to see them go, but am looking forward to seeing them at the wedding in March.
The Daughters, Little Bit and Future Son-in-Law left Saturday morning. I was sad to see them go, especially since Daughter #3 and Future Son-in-Law will be spending Christmas with his family. But I’ll get to see them in NY in January, when she has her first fitting for her wedding dress.
Son #1 and I left Sunday morning and headed to Dallas. I was in a great mood when we left, after having a wonderful time with everyone.
But something strange happened as we entered Dallas. My heart started to crumble. And I don’t know why. The closer we got to his apartment, the sadder I felt. It wasn’t his apartment, I’m sure of that. I think it was that I was getting closer and closer to the end of the holiday/weekend. And closer to being without all of them.
And continuing to be without him.
God, I miss him so very much.
And while I can live most of my life continuing to move forward in spite of that …… there are times when that feeling of loss comes creeping up on me unexpectedly …… overwhelming me. Like it did yesterday on I-35.
It’s always hard to say goodbye to the last child I’m with. Son #1 was that lucky person. But I think I did a good job of hiding how I was feeling.
And stealthily wiping away the tears.
You tend to get good at that after almost 8 years.
I am now back in NY.
I’m glad to be here.
But I miss my family.
I miss Jim.
And I always will.
Even during the good times.
Especially during the good times.