We’re in the middle of a cross-country relocation from Chicago to Washington, D.C. She’s already left for Washington, DC, and I’ve spent the past six weeks on somewhat of a vacation from both my routine and not-so-routine parental duties, wondering how to fill this extra time, this void, missing her desperately. Like all vacations, there’s something about it that’s not real.
A friend asked what it is exactly that I miss.
Her bright-eyed smile in the morning upon waking up; the way she uses her bed as a trampoline and leaps from it; her defiance at starting a day she at times would prefer not to start; her reaching for my hand, which still gives me a thrill; the way she responds with a hum and a giggle when I sneak up behind her and rest my chin on her shoulder; her smile at the end of the day; more defiance in her refusal to talk to me at the end of her day; a book to share on her terms; a meaningful hug or a touch; her soft, rhythmic breathing once she falls into a deep sleep. Along with exhaustion, the end of the day brings some level of satisfaction, of pride, at knowing that I played a significant role in her life, if for only that one day.
And as I say this, and think about these things, I realize that much of what I miss is the physical – a touch, a hand, a kiss, a breath, a sigh – and I understand how ridiculous this must seem, and how shallow. All missed, nonetheless. But the thing I miss most is knowing that upon waking in the morning, she is there. This loving, caring being is there to listen to my lucid dreams from the night, as well as my less lucid dreams of the future; she humors me. And that at the end of the day, this same loving, caring being is still there to hear about the minutia of my day, to share in my hopes, and build a shared history; our traditions; our legacies.