I’m in the car driving the the airport. Actually, my husband is driving. I sit beside him staring hard into the distance, propelling my psyche out of the truck with my laser vision. I’m on autopilot, chatting animatedly with my blondies in the backseat, but never turning around. I’m afraid if I make eye contact, I’ll break. If I can just keep it together for 30 more minutes…
The little one is singing, as always. I catch snatches of a familiar tune here and there in his cherubic toddler voice . My heart is beating so hard. Can they hear it? I wipe my sweaty palms on my lap.
25 more minutes …
The big one is reading to me from his Minecraft handbook, recounting his recent adventures. I listen, laugh, and talk back at the right times. My mouth is dry. I struggle to swallow through the knot in my throat.
15 more minutes …
I glance at the clock on the dash, then return my icy stare through the windshield. My husband is holding my hand, but I have to let go because we are both squeezing too tight.
5 more minutes …
I send a text message indicating we are almost there.
We are almost there.
If I can just keep it together…
Then we’re on the curb. It is time. With a whirlwind of hugs and kisses and smiles and waves, they are gone. I wait until the doors have closed behind them and hurriedly turn my back to hide my face. The dull ache in my breast becomes a knife.
I shatter. I can’t breathe. My husband enfolds me, blocks me from view. Somehow I find my way through the fog to the truck. As we pull away, the convulsions begin. I’m choking. I’m torn limb from limb. Breathe. Breathe. I have to breathe.
I weep bitterly. Choking. Sobbing.
The silence in the car is deafening.
At home, I unplug the night lights and close the doors to their empty rooms.
Three more weeks.
My ex and I decided to try splitting the 6-week summer visitation into two blocks this year. I LOVED having the kiddos home for two weeks in the middle. Every morning felt a little bit like Christmas morning–I couldn’t wait to wake up to the familiar “cock-a-doodle-doo” at my bedside. (Yes, my three-year-old really does that. Rascal!) Sending them back out again felt a lot harder than the first time, though. I thought this was supposed to get easier! What gives?! Ah, well. I’ll make it through. One day at a time.Photo (top): FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pixomar