As of 18 yrs old I have always lived a minimum 1.5 hour drive from my parents’ home (excepting a small stint post Europe when I had no money – thanks again, mom and dad). My family has been a long distance relationship for my entire adult life. I’ve grown accustomed to them switching holidays to entirely different weekends to ensure all of us can be there. This works because not one of us lives in the same city anymore. We are all a minimum one hour away from each other.
So, when I chose to include myself in the family of my beloved seven hours from my childhood home I didn’t think much of it. I assumed they would accommodate as I have always accommodated. What I have never gotten used to is the fact that this family all lives within 20 minutes of each other.
So when my chosen spouse and I choose to use an extended weekend to drive the seven hours to visit my family I forget that they don’t need to rearrange their lives to see each other. They can still have their holiday meal even if we aren’t there and why wouldn’t they? They can easily drive to each other for an evening and still sleep in their own beds.
I also didn’t plan on the loss of my beloved’s step-father of 20+ years. Losing him hit all of us extremely hard. He was a positive pillar in our family. We love him and now that he’s gone our communication about holidays has gone from ok to terrible. The emotions are high. The sadness is real. The need to be supported is so real.
So how do you balance two families? One that is long distance and with whom we cram all our face to face time in within a few days every four months. One that is grieving the tremendous loss of an incredible man.
I don’t know how to make the choice. If we choose to travel we are avoiding the real effects of his death. We aren’t faced with the reality that he isn’t there for the family moments. We aren’t there to support our family when we need each other. If we choose to stay we miss one of the few opportunities we get each year to visit my large brood of love and laughter. Either way we miss out. We cannot be both here and there. No matter which family we choose we are leaving one behind and possibly hurting feelings. It has never felt good.
Usually by the time I’ve written out the thoughts jumbled in my head I have some minor epiphany I can conclude with. I have no such thought tonight. I only have sadness and longing.