For as long as I can remember, saying goodbye to my dad on any given stay with him immediately induced tears and I would cry. I was always sad to say goodbye, even if it was just until next weekend. I was sad that our communication until the next time would just be over the phone.
I did it today, as I drove away from the airport. I knew it was coming, it always does, regardless of how old I am, how long our visit is, or how soon I will see him again. I dread the drive to the airport, the night before being our "last night" and knowing that in the morning, one of us will be saying our goodbyes. Honestly, I get that way with most of my family - I don't, and haven't lived near a large portion of my blood relatives in many years. For me, I think that family becomes my anchor in rough times -- good ones too, but it's the rough patches that leave you longing for that family embrace, the hug, the "let me make you some tea."
My parents split up when I was very young and for the remainder of my childhood, I hoped, wished and prayed that they would get back together so I could have the best of both worlds. My two favorite people in the world together. As I became older, I realized that being an only child, and one with divorced parents actually helped to shape me into the strong, independent person I am today. I also grew smart enough to realize that their divorce was likely the best thing for both of them too - they weren't compatible and to force them to be that way would be selfish. Being divorced myself, I get it. I wouldn't change my childhood, and I wouldn't change my history in that arena either...both instances really, truly helped me become who I was meant to be.
So why do I get sad when I know I will see them again? Because of that anchor. Despite loving my time and life with both parents, I've always longed for that big, boisterous family that lived right down the road. The family that spent every holiday together, stressed over gifts to buy brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles, and was the rock for one another when needed. That's not to say I can't call either of my parents up any time, they've both let me know that they will always be at the ready for a call, or visit. I think that it has something to do with the perception that the great, big family has fewer disasters, that they have fewer catastrophes, and fewer "bad patches" that they have to deal with - because let's face it, they always look so, damned happy.
2016/2017 has been a rough year. I know much of my blog has featured the travels, our new home, the fun business happenings, all of my reasons for running and staying healthy. Those things all happened, and I enjoyed them immensely, but under the surface life has gotten hard and, to coin a popular phrase, the struggle is real. Marriage isn't easy, work isn't always fun, and even a small family like mine can have it's share of serious downs. While my dad was visiting these past two weeks, I took some time to unplug a bit more than normal, to just be. We didn't have to talk about things (we did, don't worry), we didn't have to always have a plan for going somewhere, spending money and/or doing something. We could ease into the day, through the day, and not have a plan. For a Type A like myself, it takes some serious focus to even DO that. Having my dad stay with us in our new home was great - to finally be able to take care of him, like he's taken care of me for all of these years. Not just in childhood, but indulging my Alaskan tourist when I visit and hitting up markets, shops, and photo ops so I can share the wonder and beauty of my home state with my #PNW friends.
I feel so thankful that my business can run on a bit lower caliber for a few weeks while I take a break and reset. To me, family, no matter how big or small, is one of the most important things in life. It's a priority. Facebook, emails and household chores can wait while we really take some time to be with those we love. Going into the hustle of the holiday season, I'm going to try and remember to reach out to many of my dear friends that have become my Washington family. I'm going to try and allocate more of my downtime to being with those that truly add life and love to me.
As if on queue, getting home from the airport, I opened up my Facebook only to find a tragic post about a fellow Team in Training teammate that I lost touch with had passed away. To think of the irony in that we all trained as a team & fundraised to help find a cure for cancer - when ultimately that is what he passed from. I lost it all over again sitting here at my desk. Thinking of his new wife, and the sadness she will endure to heal. Thinking of our team mates, who will find out one by one, and the tears we will shed when we walk in his memory around Greenlake.
When we all look back at our lives, what is the thing we want more of? Not shoes, gadgets or bigger homes...time. Time is what we are working against - that one thing that binds us all together, and can subsequently push us further apart. I value the time I spend with my family, especially my dad. I think the sadness that creeps in when I have to say goodbye is because I know that our time is limited together, everyone's is, and it's a slow realization as we grow older. Why do I cry when I say goodbye? I think because I realize that time is passing too quickly, and there's nothing I can do to stop it.
Maybe this holiday season, give the gift of time to someone you know and love. It will likely be one of the best gifts they get - and it's also a gift to yourself.
I bought the below sign as a gift to myself when I moved out on my own for the first time after getting a divorce. I made sure it was the first thing in my new home, and it hung directly above my bed so I could see it every morning. I've made sure to hang it in an important place at the 4 houses I've lived in since, and I think I'm going to heed it's advice a bit more in the coming months.