Fork in the Road
Ever since my parents retired to Florida in the 1970's, I have been without a family base in close proximity. They sold our home in Queens, New York when I was about twenty.
I had left school a year earlier and found an apartment in anticipation of their plans for me, not suiting my own. My younger sisters went to Florida more willingly, middle sis still nurtured by the parental connection; the youngest was only 12. Visits to Florida happened yearly in winter. But as we matured and made lives, sometimes years were the space between small windows of reunion.
Friends become family, and amazing surrogates at that. When my kids go off to college, I don’t experience the proverbial ‘empty nest’ anguish of lots of parents. Our support system remains solid. I have my teaching work, my art work and a enough social network, to satisfy my inner introvert.
Things begin to change when my husband and I leave our core community behind to settle in a warmer climate, sick of winters and the high property taxes. What are we thinking? We know not a soul and the ache of loss is amplified by our children, now grown, migrating further and further from home soil.
Over time, I becoming resigned to long distance communication, to Face Time and What’s App, to virtual hugs and kisses. It gets harder as grandchildren are born, but I am so desensitized to in-person contact, that I begin to accept it as my reality. The stitch captures my discontent, but the isolation and overwhelming beige-ness of life reaches far beyond the beach.
During my younger daughter and son-in-law’s last visit before they leave for South Africa, I learn she is pregnant. She will carry this child for most of her term 8000 miles away . I will not be able to watch her belly expand, nor feel the tiny kicks. I will give encouragement over air waves that doubles when we learn my older daughter is concurrently pregnant in Tel Aviv with her third. This could be nothing but a turning point, a rude awakening to my maternal longings, that I am absent from those I love the most.
It is becoming clearer that I must not remain a distant satellite in this growing constellation. To live with loss and longing. I am asking questions again, waking to hope and choice and life. Where I live in South Carolina, death is daily, aging a pastime. I am not fool enough to believe
I can escape the inevitable. I'm just unwilling to accept life lived without growing other-than-old.