She's gone to help plan for showers and weddings, to be there when a new nephew was born or in this case, just because she and the kids were having too much fun with Nana, Boppy and the cousins to come home.
I'll be honest, every time the prospect seems like a good idea. It gives me a little flexibility that I don't have with the family there. I usually schedule a poker night, spend more time at work and at the gym and drink beer in the middle of the week. Who wouldn't look forward to that?
But about mid-week of each one of these little separations I start to remember why I have a family in the first place. It gets lonely. I miss the routine. I miss their smells (good and bad). I miss their faces.
I just miss them. A lot.
So the timing of this picture shared about a billion times on facebook and the internet couldn't have come at a better (or worse) time. I'm sure you've seen the photo. It is a solider getting set to ship off overseas, saying goodbye to his infant daughter and obviously overcome with grief.
When I first saw the photo, I was heart sick, lonely and incredibly grateful all at the same time. It made me realize just how important the three members of my little crew have become to me. They are like extensions of my body. When I don't have one close by I start to feel like I am not a whole person.
It also gave me a small glimpse into the enormous sacrifice so many people make to take care of their families. Sacrifices that often mean they have to be away from them for extended periods of time.
This solider is on the one end. Not only is he leaving for perhaps at least a year, he has no guarantee that he will return. It is probably running through his head that this may the last time he holds his precious baby.
But there are countless other mothers and fathers all along this spectrum who have to travel for work or other responsibilities that have to be away from their families far more often than I do. My brother-in-law, Joe routinely travels for a week at a time for his work. It is not at the same level as this soldier, but I still wonder how he is able to pull it off.
This experience also woke me up to my role as a son. I can't get enough of Luke and Clara and the older they get, the more I want to be around them. I seriously don't ever get sick of them. So when I accidentally "butt-dialed" my father I was reminded that I am on the other end of this equation as well.
When my Dad returned my mistaken call he half-joked, "If you didn't butt-dial me, I'd never hear from you."
If my Dad thinks of me, even a quarter of what I think of Luke and Clara, then not hearing from me must really disappoint him. That is unacceptable. Now I make a point to call my Dad at least once a week. It has become one of things I look forward to the most.
(Lukie was pretty happy to reunite)
Karey and I often talk about where "home" is for us and where it might end up being. It is Richmond now, but we have close family scattered up and down the East Coast. We both wish we were closer to them, but as much as I want to see both sides more I've come to realize that "home" is wherever these guys are. As long they are close by, I am okay. As this week taught me, when I am away from them I am just a little bit lost.
That is not say there won't be more times like these. There will be more poker nights (especially because I won big) and more chances for Nana and Boppy to get their fill of "Hurricane Nobles" as we've dubbed ourselves. But I'm glad I got the chance to catch myself, to appreciate this special time in our lives and to realize how happy I am with our "home".
Speaking of which, I know his song isn't new, but it popped up on my Pandora on the long drive home from Upstate NY. This song got me thinking about this post.
"Home" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: