My mom and dad moved back to Indiana last week. A kind friend asked me on Thursday, "How are you doing?"
And I replied, "I'm fine, surprisingly." Well, I'm not fine, or I haven't been fine. Although it's taken me until this very moment to realize it.
I would say the sadness started on Sunday. I began to think of every friendship I have or have ever had, and began restlessly reaching out to them. I called a friend from High School. I wrote an "I'm Thinking of You" e-mail to a couple friends. I made a new resolution to send weekly e-mails to certain friends telling them that I've been praying for them. A resolution I make regularly and hardly manage to keep past the first round of e-mails. That's as far as I've gotten this time.
Today, the sadness has followed me. I went to visit another friend, who showered me with gifts from her refrigerator and cupboards, and I could hardly put two words together to say "thank you." I've had as much spark as a slug.
I came home, put Noelle down for a nap, and talked to Dwayne on the phone. In the moments following the phone call I sat absolutely still on the couch, pressing the dead phone to my ear. The gloom was palpable. I could have been Eyore.
"I'm going to lay down on the couch," I told myself, because somehow I needed permission to not grade papers, or cook Noelle's peas, or put away the laundry. So I laid on the couch and named the cloud hovering over me: loneliness
I guess it stands to reason that when you're feeling lonely you'll assume it's because you need more friends, or more interaction with the friends you've got. And this is what I assumed, that I needed more time with friends. But as I laid there, I suddenly remembered a lunchtime date with a friend who absolutely shines. Just after that I remembered a sweet note another friend had left me on facebook. Need I mention all the gifts that had been showered on me this morning by a friend? No, I wasn't lonely for friends. It was something else.
I was - I am - lonely for my mom and dad. I don't think I expected this because after all, I'm twenty-eight, a wife, and a mother.
My aunt and uncle flew through LA from New Zealand this weekend. They sat on my couch - the very one I was moping on - and we discussed living far away from our families. Their oldest son lives in DC, their second oldest in Indiana.
"We can tell that N. misses us," my Uncle said referring to their oldest. He and my aunt sighed and looked at each other. They missed him too.
"We can tell our kids need us," my aunt added. "Not everyday anymore. But they still need us." It was clear to all of us that my aunt and uncle need their kids too.
I'm surprised to feel how much I still need my mom and dad. I think especially my mom. I need her in a way I never imagined needing her when I was in High School and Junior High.
I need her the way a woman needs someone else to wordlessly understand what it's like to be a caregiver, and a nurturer. I need her the way a woman needs another woman to know her, the way she has come to know her own child. I need her the way a woman needs another woman to show her that it's possible to keep giving beyond your limits. In short, I need her the way a mom needs her own mother.
I miss my parents, but there's no shaking this loneliness. So what do you do with a gloomy heart? I think you stay on the couch for a little while. You let the emotion sweep over you. You let it rise to the top of your head and then sink away, until your spirit has worked a sort of alchemy and the sadness has turned to gold.