Just a couple years ago we were taking things a minute at a time. Not an hour, day, a week…a minute. Each singular moment had a different challenge on our lives.
It seems funny now that my kids are looking at me and talking about what I’ll do when they’re gone. Well, some of the kids. The girls, in particular.
I posted in the social mediasphere, jokingly, that the BBC was looking for an investigative journalist to do a 6-month attachment for a documentary program in Cardiff, Wales. Now, my kids didn’t seriously think I was going to go apply for the job. But still, they talked about how cool it would be.
“I could come visit at Christmas to the UK!” said my oldest. “But of course, if you took that kind of job you’d have to take everyone with you.”
Ummm…yeah. That’s the idea. If the last two years have taught me anything it’s that decisions have an effect like the waves made in still waters if you drop a stone. Walk away from your house? You can’t get student loans. Move to Cardiff? You’re taking 3 kids with you and you’re no longer just 8 hours drive from your oldest kid, you’re actually closer to a dozen hours on a plane.
This, by the way, is not at all to say I’d considered taking a job out of the country. Well, I considered it, sure, it’s the freaking BBC! But it’s not like they called me up or I’m in consideration. It’s a fun fantasy. That’s about it. The idea of an American working for British television working in a town where some of the stuff might require me to know Welsh politics and speak Galic? Yeah…not really going to put me in the running for that kind of job. That, and the lack of money, monetary conversion, cost, moving, work visas . . . you get the drift, right? It’s not representing reality here.
But the reality it brought up was that we’ve all moved past minute-by-minute. Not week by week, but we’ve moved to months. The girls are even looking years ahead.
“What will you do then, Dad?”
They’re looking 8 years in the future.
“Will you stay here?”
“I don’t know, kiddo. There’s nothing really keeping me in California. I don’t know what I’d do.”
“You could work for the BBC in England!”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“You could go on the road in a band, you’ve always wanted to do that!”
“Yep. Though fifty…not the age to hit the road as a rock-and-roller, unless you’re Keith and Mick.”
“But you could.”
This didn’t go on long, I admit. But then my son asked something and I couldn’t answer him with anything but the truth.
“Will you be buried next to Mom when you pass away, Dad?”
I stopped for a second, not sure how to answer Noah, one of the twins. “I don’t think so, kiddo. We only had enough for one burial plot, so you’re Mom’s there and the plots around her are taken. If I wanted that, we’d have to move her and that’s reaaallllly expensive. That, and I won’t be the one paying for it. You probably would have to do it. I don’t want to put that on you.”
I thought that might have an effect on him, but he just thought for a moment and it must have seemed logical.
I added: “I don’t know if I’ll be here in California, either. After you guys leave I don’t know where I’m going to be. But wherever it is, you’ll be home there.”
That seemed to satisfy him. Since he’s gotten back, about every other night the little guy ends up coming to my bedroom about 3am and asking if he can come in. I let him, of course, and he falls asleep. I can see the worry: worry his sister’s leaving for college; worry that he’s changing schools. All these are things we have no choice but to accept, but for a 10-year-old acceptance isn’t easy. For a 10-year-old without a Mom it might just be even harder. It’s only been two years and already another woman in his life is leaving. That can’t be easy.
But still…I feel like we turned a corner this summer. They’re older. I’m a bit wiser. We’re a bit more on-track.
It went from a minute to a day, a week, a month . . . and then what? We’re already looking ahead. At least that’s forward progress. That, and after talking about the uncertainty of where I’ll be after they grow up, I simply said what I’ve always said:
“like always, guys. We’re stronger together than when we’re apart.”