Saying good-bye doesn’t get easier

I am returning to DC today for what I think is my last week in the country for a while. I went back to Michigan this weekend to see my family. All my siblings came in to town. It was great to see everyone again, and catch up with our respective adventures.

Part of human nature is to be preoccupied with one’s own life, and to assume that what one’s activities are the most important and interesting events in the world. I’m just as guilty of that self-centeredness as anyone else is. In the three months since I left town, my family members have all been living their own lives, adopting a dog, preparing to sell a house and move, helping a child move out of town for a long-term internship, changing jobs. I guess that’s what we mean when we say that “life goes on.”

I also made time to go see a former co-worker and dear friend, and catch up on what is happening in her life. Her kids are getting older, life is going on.

My own family is doing well as well. Being separate from them is an emotional challenge for me. My wife is a very strong and capable person, but I feel that my leaving to start this new career is unfair to her. In the long term, when she is able to join me, I believe that we will enjoy the adventures that come with this career. In the short term, though, she has to take all the responsibility to take care of the house and our younger son, plus find her own self-fulfillment in her art. She has a heavier burden to bear than I have.

This morning I had to say good-bye again. This time, my family isn’t sure when we will be able to get together again. Modern communications is great. We can keep in touch with text messages, email, and video chat. Sharing our activities and new experiences often has shrunk the distance between us. This separation would have been a lot harder without technology. It isn’t the same as being there in person, though. Even though we have been able to communicate easily and frequently, a text message is a rotten alternative to a hug.

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