I’m a pretty game person. By that, I mean that I usually try to take what God gives each day and do the best I can with it. Some days I’m more successful than others, usually in direct relation to how closely I walk that particular day with God, honestly. Some days, though, are just hard. Whether I can count the day a success or not, whether it was fruitful or productive or a waste of space on the time continuum, some are just plain painful. That’s how life is, right? You overcome the obstacles you can, and embrace and be embraced through the ones you can’t.
That’s why I hate distance. Physical distance.
They say the world is getting smaller every day, but it’s an illusion. It may seem smaller, news near-instantaneous, a friend’s sonogram and joy shared around the world in the same virtual minute. But sometimes you can’t replace the up-close and personal. A parenthetical virtual hug doesn’t warm and lighten your heart in quite the way a real squeeze can. And sometimes I’m just too far away.
My husband has traveled a lot, more or less, with work. We’ve lived on both coasts at one point or another, while family, friends and other loved ones are pretty centralized. Our children had this special talent for saving illnesses for Dad’s work travel. Juggling the responsibilities of three or four young children is taxing enough alone, and then you find yourself caring for a baby with a high, unresponsive fever, or juggling two children fighting asthma in the night and taking turns on the nebulizer. Before the times of instant texting…heck, before we even carried cell phones!…that distance was concrete. There was a wall thousands of miles wide. I once tried to track down my husband in my crazy, sleep-deprived state, through friends I thought he might be having dinner with at some point on a business trip because I had no other contact point with him, including a hotel phone number, just so I could cry and yell at him for abandoning me with these sick children. The fact that they were entirely healthy when he left was lost on my delirious brain. I’m not proud of it, but there you are. He was too far away.
At one point while we were living in Georgia, my mother became sick with her third, most virulent cancer. It had invaded her brain, and I was desperate to get to her, to do anything I could to help. I had four young children and responsibilities to divest myself from. It took two weeks for me to make arrangements to leave and two days to drive to her with the kids. I felt desperately that I was too far away.
The virtual distance between me and my loved ones really has decreased over the years. We have cell phones and free long distance, skype and interactive xbox gaming. I can see my children, and play Risk with them, even though we have moved an ocean away. I don’t feel as distant as I really am most of the time, but occasionally it is just overwhelming. Now would be an example. My precious husband went back to the States for work. A couple of days into his trip, his family called him to come, as his father was dying. Now, I am so glad my husband was only a few hours’ drive from his father, but I was an impossible ocean away from my husband. There was no way to get to him at all. I wanted so much to hug and comfort my husband, and it is impossible.
At times like this, I just wonder how I can have been ok with traveling so far. I’m ready for teleportation stations. That would so beat skype.