I live and unconventional life. Unconventional in the sense that I reside in the Midwest and I'm not married, I don't have children, and I don't own my home. Instead I live with another unmarried childless woman. We function as most couples would when we text to ask what's for dinner, we trade house chores, watch television together, and we even socialize together. Every morning we say "I love you" to one another and at night, we usually kiss each other on the face and say it again. I am not a lesbian. I'm a friend. Julie is not my roommate, she is my home partner and my friend. Julie and I share a family of sorts. It is comprised of friends, near and far, that come together to support and love one another. When schedules permit we have family dinners and, from the outside, it looks like any other traditional family gathering around a large table. We hug, kiss, and say "I love you" as much as possible. Without this network of people I would have emotionally disappeared years ago. My "family" fills the space in which a traditional life would otherwise occupy.
My birth family - Mom, Dad, and sister Dawn, live 8 hours away from me. We talk often and most holidays are reserved for going home to see them. And most of the time we sit around the table laughing and acting stupid as we've done since I can remember. My parents and sister are too far away from me right now. I have a longing in my heart to see them and be in their presence. More specifically I long to embrace them. To feel their arms around me; hugging me tightly.
I'm an affectionate person. As I previously stated, my created family has the embrace down. Sometimes we hug one another just to feel that physical closeness. And we all linger and at times it seems that we don't want to pull away. At a Christmas party a few years ago, a dear friend returned to visit. At the end of the night, everyone was standing around and we all hugged, made the rounds to each neck, and then did it all over. It seemed that we couldn't hug each other enough. One friend jokingly said "We're hugging like we'll never see each other again! We'll see each other in the morning!" We all laughed and....well, hugged again. I mention all this because, for some reason, I feel that with all the affection I give away I've neglected my Mom and Dad some of hat affection. And I want to know why. I've thought about it a lot and I've started to trace it back to the beginning of several deaths that seemed to pile up like a stack of unpaid bills. First, my maternal grandma passed away. It was a strange feeling. Death is, of course, a natural part of life. But she was just gone. It felt so strange and the air was heavy. Then, within a month of each other, both of my grandfathers passed away. This past April my father's mother passed away unexpectedly and quite horribly. Dad's heartbroken blue eyes never looked as lost and young as they did when I finally made it to Missouri where the service took place.
What on earth to I say to my motherless father?
Now, most of these events would seem to bond families and help incite a hugging marathon. Typically people hug to comfort another. And this is where I failed. In my own confusion on how to deal with the loss of my parents' parents, I shrunk back into my own hole instead of reaching out to my parents and taking them into my arms for consolation. You know, when the nurtured becomes the nurturer. I failed - each time, with each loss. And it just kind of led to less and less long embraces. Less and less hand holding and forehead kisses. Fewer back rubbing, hair stroking, cheek kissing for no reason, and more distance that was further than 8 hours of driving.
This is all so personal and I feel like I'm being choked with fear for sharing it. But, I believe it's important. It is important that my parents know how deeply I regret pulling back and retreating because I didn't know how to deal with the loss of a grandparents. That hole I crawled inside of led to a weight that sat in the room when we were all together. It's also important for anyone who may stumble upon this post, to serve as a warning, Don't Do This. I wanted to reach out and touch my mother's face or put my head on my daddy's chest, but I was afraid. I felt they'd wonder why I was acting so strange or if something was wrong and I wasn't telling them. Well, I guess there was something. I wanted to tell them...I'm sorry.
I love my Mommy and Daddy. Even at 35 years old, there are times that I want to feel Mom's hands on my face and Dad's sweet kiss on my head. I want Mommy and Daddy. And to do that, I need to dive in and just wrap around them and embrace them past the awkwardness, past the comfort zone, and all way to the place where they feel my heart and intention. Because they are my parents and they deserve my touch. They deserve everything my created family gets from me. And more.
I have a ritual that I try to do each time I settle in for the night. I hug my pillow and lift up positive thoughts for those I can't be with physically. I say their names and tell them I'm sending my love. To my sweet sister, to my oldest childhood friend and her husband and new baby girl, to my dear one across the ocean in another country, and finally to my Mom and Dad. I have told my friends and sister about my ritual, but never my parents. I guess I felt strange, but why? Why would it ever be strange to tell them I'm sending my heart to them? Why, Carrie?
Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the fact that some of the most important people of my life live far away from me. While I'm lucky to have my people here, I get sad that I can't be with everyone all the time. But, that's just life. It happens. And now, more than ever, I know that the next time I see my parents I must bring them in close to my heart and hug them as if it will never happen again. And maybe it's not for them at all. Maybe it's for me...? And so what? It will benefit us all.
I love you Mom and Dad. I need you. I yearn for your physical presence and I never want to regret a minute spent with you because I was afraid to just reach out and hug you.