The Annual Migration

The annual migration has begun.

I don’t mean the migration of birds from North to South.  I don’t mean the 17-year phenomenon of cicadas popping out of the ground on the East Coast, either.

No, the migration I’m speaking of is my children migrating East for the summer.

The migration is actually something that’s happened since I moved, about eight years ago, to California.  My parents always wanted to see the kids for a period over the summer so the girls, initially, would stay with my folks for a period of weeks.  Usually 2-3 weeks.

The kids in the leaves
The kids in the leaves

During those initial years here in California I looked forward to the migration.  I wanted to take the opportunity to get work done, the house kept up, things fixed.  I also always wanted to take the time to do things with my wife and re-kindle some of the missing pieces of our relationship that slipped away when four kids were running around the house.  Unfortunately, she couldn’t enjoy herself.  Having the kids away just tore her up and she wouldn’t take the time, go out, visit places…all the things I do now she wouldn’t do then.

At that time the longest amount of time we spent away from the kids was a month and that was too long, in Andrea’s opinion.

Two years ago, though, Andrea passed away.  She died in March and by May the kids were out of school.  I had taken a new job in order to have fewer hours and a flexible schedule to care for the kids when they needed it.  However, with a new job comes no vacation time and little flexibility for time off at first.  The result was the fact that my kids traveled to Nebraska with my folks for the entire summer.  I visited, and we spoke every night.  Sort of an electronic tucking-in.

That’s been the pattern.  This will mark the 3rd summer my kids leave the home . . . except this year my oldest, Abbi, is staying to prep for college.  It’s a major change in a year of change.

My girls...Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right
My girls…Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right

I’ll put it this way: the 2nd year for us without Andrea was a testament to how strong we are together.  My grandmother, whom the girls knew and loved, passed away first.  Then Andrea’s father, who became totally and unexpectedly ill, passed away from aggressive cancer. That was January and February.

Now my oldest is a high school graduate while her sister graduated 8th grade.  My boys are moving schools due to the loss of Abbi as a driver for the afternoon.  It also was a necessity to save money by leaving the Catholic school, I just didn’t have the cash to continue.

So tomorrow morning, at 5am, my kids will jump in the van with my folks . . . and drive many, many states to Nebraska and spend the next two months in Nebraska.  I envy them to one degree, as I loved growing up there . . . and I’m melancholy because in a year of change it’s going to be hard without them.  As they’ve grown older, their company has become more incredible.  Their humor, their intelligence, their interests . . . it’s like little new pieces of mindful interest swirling around.  It’s pretty amazing.  I’ll miss that stimulation.

So I go to sleep now, exhaustion overwhelming me, and plan on getting up insanely early to take in what time I can.  The trip is a necessity as it allows me to work, and I envy the experiences and fun the kids will have.

But part of me will miss having the fun with them, too.

The upside . . . I still have my daughter, Abbi, to share the summer.

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