Distance Looms

Elaine and me on my Wedding Day, September 2007
Learning New Ways to Love
In 2000, when my daughter Elaine was 18, she and three friends rented a house in Riverside, where they’d be attending college, about 90 miles from our home.
On moving day kids and parents loaded cars and drove to Riverside. We spent the day unpacking, then descended on the local Target store to pick up a few more necessities of freshman life, like a shower curtain adorned with purple dragonflies. After dinner at a local restaurant, I offered a few last-minute bits of motherly advice, then took my leave.
I cried all the way home.
A few weeks ago Elaine told me that her husband, a Navy man, was up for new orders. She, Rob, and two of our grandchildren would be moving to Hawaii for a five-year tour. “Oh my goodness, that’s so exciting!” I exclaimed. “When do you move?” “Later this summer,” she told me. “What a fabulous adventure for you all,” I said.
I hung up the phone and turned to my husband, Rich. “Rob’s new duty station is Hawaii,” I told him. My eyes filled and I leaned into my husband’s arms as he reached out to comfort me.
Since then, I’ve been imagining our relationship with an ocean between us. I think my daughter has, too. Last weekend, when they visited, she said, “Mom, I’d like to have a garden in Hawaii. Maybe when you come to visit you can help me get it going.”
Later I said, “Rich and I have been thinking–maybe the six of us can take a vacation together before you move.” Elaine said, “That would be great!”
We’ve talked about Skype and webcams and night and weekend minutes on our cell phones, both of us cataloging the tools we’ll use to keep in touch. We’ve talked about the schools in Hawaii: Cadence begins kindergarten this fall; schools in Hawaii teach English, Japanese, and Hawaiian. We’ve talked about the discoveries that await them as they settle into a new home, like discovering the perfect little coffee house or park where the boys can play.
I called her last week and I told her, “Hopefully this is the only time you’ll hear me say this: I’m going to miss you all terribly and I hate it that you have to be so far away. But we knew that for a military family this is part of the program….” my voice trailed off.
“I know, Mom, we’ll miss you too. But we’ll figure it out.”
She’s right, of course. I picture the bond between us as a giant rubber band: It’s strong and resilient and stretchy enough to span an ocean.
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

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