Leaving on a Jet Plane

My kids and I right after Abbi’s first HS play at Oak Ridge

The Letter by Joe Cocker

So it’s been a couple days worth of late posts, but there’s a reason for that.  My kids – all four of them – headed out to Nebraska for the Summer.  I get a number of differing reactions to my actions in sending the kids off to see their grandparents for a couple months.  First, of course, is the aghast, jaw-dropped, confused look from so many people.  Many of them seem incredulous that I would even consider letting my children away for that amount of time.  After all, my wife hated them being gone even for a couple weeks at a time.  I, however, have to tell these  very people the truth, and that is I have no choice.

Would you, a good parent I hope, leave your children at home and force your seventeen-year-old daughter to be their babysitter?  Seriously?  I mean, that’s my option.  There’s really no camp that takes up the summer, and I cannot see that going well anyway.  There’s no option to get a “nanny” for them because that’s far too much money.

The second camp, of course, is the folks that tell me “that’s great,” though they may not necessarily mean it, and tell me how it will give me a much-needed break.  Well so it will . . . for the first day.  Yesterday was that first day.  I took a nap – uninterrupted, by the way, one of the greatest pleasures in the world so far.  Then there was the ability to play my guitar at full-volume for as long and loud as I wanted (without bothering the neighbors.)  I watched a movie without having to answer 100 questions every 15 seconds.

Then it was 3pm.

You see, I don’t dislike being home with the kids.  Sure, the average, everyday sitcom tells the world that the kids are crazy, insane, drive parents nuts.  The Disney Channel method tells kids that parents are stupid and the world is going insane and kids are the only people with the werewithall to save everyone from stupidity and a lack of common sense.  They’re both wrong, by the way.  I love my kids, not just because they’re mine, but because each of those four little minds is amazing to me.  They all have small little glimmers of me and bigger glimmers of their Mom . . . but they’re none of them just that.  They are, quite frankly, their own individual people and I love that.

So I got home and realized that it’s not going to be a quiet, relaxing Summer.  It’s going to be a long, dull, very quiet one.

So how did I do this last year?

On my LA Pilgrimage

I have to be brutally honest with you, I don’t remember last Summer.  There were obviously some interesting little events that I took into account.  I drove to L.A. driving the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down, and I loved the scenery and curvy roads and interesting people along the way.  I remember cleaning up and setting up the house, but that’s all.  It was so close to the losing Andrea, my home, my job, that I really didn’t have time to adjust.  I was happy that my kids weren’t around due to the fact that I had the time to grieve a little.  What I didn’t have was the time to break down and just disappear for awhile.  I was working at a new job and they had expectations that were far to understanding and flexible.  I wasn’t going to disappoint on that front.  It was part of the reason for disappearing for a crazy weekend to Los Angeles and leaving town.  If I’d had the time and money I’d have gotten in the car, started driving and kept going until I had reached an evening where I didn’t feel my wife next to me in the bed and didn’t want to cry every morning when I woke up seeing that I was all alone again.

But this year is different.  We’re not healed, this kind of thing never heals.  What I am is . . . different.  That may sound a little strange or just plain, um, vague, but it’s true.  I’m not the man I was.  I’m not the man who married Andrea, but I wasn’t that when she passed away.

We all, change, I guess is the thing.  The one, single, unwavering thing that has never been different, though, is my love for those kids.  While I had a really hard time adjusting, thinking, or even believing we were having another child each time Andrea was pregnant, I never changed in my backing, love, and protection of all four of those kids.

So having an empty house, without them, without their noise, hungry mouths, shouts, arguments, and craziness driving me absolutely insane I’m going completely certifiable.  That’s just a day and a half into the summer.  Can you imagine what it’s going to be like by the time I hit July or August?

But I take solace in knowing I can think about projects for them and visit them at the place I really do feel most comfortable – home with my Dad and Mom.

They got a ticket for an airplane, but I’m not going to be alone.

That, and the use of Apple’s Facetime in order to make sure I can at least see the kids every night and tuck them into bed.

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