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    Ramblings of a Melancholy Mama

    “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.”

    Joni Mitchell


    My six-year-old niece overheard me telling her mom that I was feeling a bit melancholy.  “Well, Auntie Karen, we don’t have any melons in our garden, but we are growing cauliflower.  You could have some of that.”  It took me a second, but I figured out that she thought I had a hankering for a ‘melon-cauli’ combo.  Sweet.

    The reason for my blues?  My husband is going to be away for almost three weeks.  I realize that it may not sound like a very long time; some partnerships deal with much longer periods of separation, but it all depends on what you’ve grown accustomed to.  And I’ve grown accustomed to my husband.

    It seemed like a good idea six months ago, when we made the decision for him to go away and earn some extra money, but now I feel a slight queasiness when I think of his upcoming departure.  The girls and I will manage just fine, and we have lots of family support; but we’ll miss him.

    I’m reminded of visits with my grandparents each summer when I was a kid.  Sometimes I’d go to Winnipeg to visit them, but often they would drive out to the coast for a couple of weeks to visit our family.  If it was a banner year, they’d come to the Island, then I’d drive back to the prairies with them.  I loved being in their company.  We’d play a lot of cards, go swimming together in oceans and lakes, and share many laughs.

    Of course every year, the inevitable would occur: the visit would come to an end and we’d have to part.  I remember that heart-heavy feeling; the tears would live right behind my eyes for hours, waiting patiently for an opportunity to be released.  Grandpa’s hug would do it to me every time.  (It’s happening even now as I write this.  I remember watching a programme about how, physiologically, our bodies don’t differentiate between an actual event, and the mere memory of that event.  So when my mind took me on a journey back in time just now, my body re-lived the moment.  I saw Grandpa, felt the same feelings I had thirty years ago when he hugged me good-bye, and my eyes welled up with tears.  Powerful stuff!)

    The energy in our home always felt so different after my grandparents had left, and I used to marvel at how quickly a new norm had been established.  There was a tangible emptiness, even though all of the usual suspects still resided in our home.

    I think I’ve always  preferred to be the Leaver, as opposed to the one Being Left.  Leaving is tough too, but at least you’re moving on to a new situation.  Whenever I was gearing up for a move away from my family, the days leading up to my departure would be filled with emotion, but once I had said my tearful good-byes, my mind was focused on the adventures that lay ahead.

    One of my all-time favourite Shakespearean lines comes from Romeo and Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”  (I think I’ve referred to it before in a post about leaving my daughters.)  The sorrow is sweet because the love is strong.  I’ve only known my husband for seven years, and, in a relatively short time, we’ve become a family.  I depend on him.

    I do take comfort in the knowledge that I was fiercely independent for many, many years.  I know that I am a strong, capable woman who can handle life on her own if need be, but I do appreciate leaning on someone, and having them lean on me.  It has taken me awhile to surrender to this new place, but it feels good.  And safe.

    Speaking of favourite lines, this second one is borrowed from Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell:  “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?”  Well, yes, it does always seem to go that way, but every once in awhile, we catch a glimpse of what life would be like without something, or someone, and it makes us all the more appreciative for what we have.  It’s a gift, wrapped up in a little bit of heartache.

    Here’s Joni:

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