The long goodbyes
I hate long goodbyes. When I say long I don’t mean goodbyes that drag out but saying goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a long time and that live far away. Those goodbyes. I’m no good at them. I just can’t get them right. They leave me full of wants, needs and regrets. And usually in tears. Some are definitely worse than others.
So this morning I had to say goodbye to my mum. Again. The mum goodbyes are the worst. She lives in Norway and I live in Australia. It’s not as easy as a Sunday drive to say hello. I always need that last hug or that last kiss we never share. Then there’s that last wave that usually doesn’t happen because goodbyes are killers and none of us want to let the other one have to see the pain so one of us turns away at that critical moment as the car drives out of sight.
It’s marginally easier being the one who leaves. For me at least. If I’m the one leaving I’ll quickly become (or make myself) busy with what needs to happen next. Airports, check ins, kids, all that stuff. But if I’m the one staying… whoa. And this morning was such a time. My husband and son took my mum and my niece to the airport. The baby and I had to stay because there was simply no room in the car. As soon as the car drove off I just kind of tipped.
Our house feels strangely foreign and empty when someone I love leaves it. I walk around aimlessly looking at the places they occupied searching for pieces of them left behind. As if it will miraculously make them reappear. With my mum her smell usually lingers for a while but never long enough. It’s this lotion she uses. It just smells like her, safe and cozy. I make strong connections between people and their smells. Today I have a baby that smells like my mum from those last hugs. She probably won’t get a bath today so I can hold on to that smell for just a little longer.
Goodbyes are awful. Suddenly I’m a child with children of her own desperate for my mother’s embrace. I feel lost and for a couple of days I find myself having to revisit all the choices that created the physical distance between us. But the answer is always the same. I can’t go back. I can’t sacrifice myself to be closer to my loved ones. I have to remember who I was before I left and who I am now, and the battles fought to get to this point. Going back is something I may not survive. It sounds melodramatic, I know, but severe depression is no joke. I came closer than most people know to not surviving the time I lived there and I just can’t put myself in that darkness again. My brain just can’t handle the extremes and I just can’t give up finally being on the way to doing what I want with my life. My children deserve a healthy, happy mum even if it means we have to make big sacrifices. And my mum knows that. I know that. But it’s still heartbreaking. And it still hurts like hell every now and then.
After ten years it would only be natural to assume goodbyes would get easier. They don’t. If anything they’re harder. And I know they will only keep getting harder and in some years they will reach a peak of almost unbearable as my mother at some point will become an old lady unable to travel across the world as much as she does now. (It’s still a long time away, mamma!) Our distance means there are many realities I just can’t think about. The what if’s and the when’s have to be kept far away. It means we have to carry a lot of hurt and longing in our hearts but the distance also shows how strong our love is.
Today was a little harder than it has been. Partly because it’s the first time she’s left me as a new mother of two, partly because this time there was no time for just us and because I’ve been ignoring the fact that the past two years have been an uphill battle and I’m completely depleted. I failed to really acknowledge the ledge I am hanging on to until my safest haven left. Because that’s what most mums are, the safest place there is, a haven between two arms to seek shelter from raging storms. So today the sound of every airplane above has left me in tears. Today has been a battle of its own. Today was full of regrets. Things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done (more of).
I love you until eternity, mamma. And I miss you every day.
I’m sorry it has to be this way.
Thank you for coming to see us. Thank you for helping out and for everything you do for us.
Thank you for letting me go, for never holding me back and for always being there when I need you the most.
(Sorry for posting your photo without permission. You’re beautiful.)
All my love, always. xx