For the first time in 25 years, my daughter was not home for the holidays. For me, her absence is a phantom limb, a muscle memory of a part now gone, the burden I carry and recognize as a mother’s longing for an absent child. When your daughter lives overseas, she might as well be live on the moon.
My far away child exists in a perpendicular universe, one I can intersect and visit on my iPhone or computer. It is a two-dimensional place where I can hear her voice but not her heartbeat, one where I see her face but not her soul.
In my parent’s generation, the current tools of technology were yet to be invented. Then, a child was let loose on the world, tenuously connected to home by an occasional letter or telephone call. At a similar age to my daughter, I recall my young stepsisters travelling in Europe and the worry my mother endured. She would wait patiently to receive their precious onion thin airmail letters.
I can see those letters lying flat on the kitchen table and Mom frowning as she ran her fingers over their sentences, searching for the Rosetta stone that would unlock the words and translate them into the reassurance that her girls were healthy and safe. Other times, it would be a brief collect call in the middle of the night. Then, when overseas calls were a king’s ransom and words were gold, conversations became hurried and succinct to save as much money as possible. It was only when the girls returned home that the true stories were told and sometimes not for decades.
When I recall my mother’s trials, I no longer feel the right to complain about the technology available to my daughter and I. I miss my daughter and I miss her all the more because I cannot have her here. I miss her smile, her spark, her laughter, her companionship and her wisdom.
Separation from our children is a small death and if a loss of a child in time and space can be this painful, how much more devastating would a total loss be? It is then that I remind myself that unlike so many other parents, my daughter is not gone forever. I can talk to her, see her face on the computer, visit her and have her visit me. It is with these thoughts that I realize being apart is a trivial thing. Separation is something that I will endure because I am not afraid to fly