Tomorrow I take the first steps in what will be my three-day journey homeward. I’ve been counting down the time until I go home pretty much since I arrived. It’s close to the last thing that comes to my mind each evening, it’s definitely the first thing I think about in the morning and I also count down several times during the day. As tomorrow has approached, my mood has begun to noticeably lift. Just heading towards my River raises my spirits. The act of reducing the distance between us seems as though it’s doing something positive.
My friends gathered for a goodbye this evening. We spent five pleasant hours eating, drinking and talking together.
“I have a feeling we won’t see each other again,” one of my friends said. I told her she was wrong, but in my heart, I recognize she might be right. Much as I might love this place and many of the people here, it’s unlikely I’ll have a compelling reason to come back. It’s now my family who calls me.
This trip has made me even more appreciative of my family than I was before. I realize that before I met Mark, something was definitely missing from my life. He fulfilled that missing piece. I also realize that having River has made me a kinder, gentler and more beautiful person. I am grateful for what they’ve brought to my life – love, security, closeness, trust and happiness – and also how they have affected the person I am.
Nevertheless, I feel a sadness at not being able to have it all – not being able to maintain close relationships with friends I love from various corners of the world at the same time that I try to establish a stable home with my family. I have to accept that I can’t have it all.
Almost daily, I look at the photos a mom-friend sent me of River affectionately playing with her son. That was a good two weeks ago though, before he started walking. I know he must be different now. But I haven’t had access to any videos, he doesn’t react to my voice when I try to talk to him by phone, so I’ve basically given up and resorted to looking at these photos and getting updates from Mark. The distance has grown. It’s gotten to where it’s sad, but not as painful, where it’s almost hard to visualize him.
“Do you think he will recognize you when you come back?” a friend here asked me.
“I try not to think about that,” I said. “Because the thought of him not recognizing me is too painful to contemplate.”