Thankful for the things that are gone for the week
I hoped I would have held it together longer than I did, but the breakdown came on fast and without warning.When my wife first asked me if she and my two daughters could go and visit her mother in Florida for the week of Thanksgiving, even though I felt a slight twinge of uneasiness because I knew I’d miss them, I agreed. The main reason I consented to the trip, however, was that I couldn’t help but think of my own selfish needs. It had been more than two years since I spent any time at home alone, and the minute my wife mentioned the trip I was suddenly giddy at the thought of sleeping through the night without rescuing at least one little girl from a nightmare and watching what I wanted on television without either my wife changing the channel to another 20/20 husband-kills-wife exclusive or my daughter Isabell bounding in front of me pleading for another viewing of Elmo’s World.
Then there is the whole breath-taking moment that comes from running to the bathroom without being followed by a small troupe of kids that can’t wait to tell me “Good job” when I’m finished.For a while, however, I at least tried to hide my joy at the thought of days of private, Andrew time where I could read books, write and catch up on all the odd jobs around the house that have needed attention by someone with more energy or drive than myself.Sure, I told my wife, I was going to miss her. Oh, I said, I might be drunk on freedom for a day or two, but after that I was going to be lonely. But my wife said, with her usual knowing glance, that no matter what I thought, the silence would drive me crazy before the sun set on the first day.Yeah. Right.
I figured that I’d spend my first day alone at home dancing my gypsy dance of joy. Then I’d move on to an indulgent celebration of my freedom by watching the Science Channel’s space marathon, which is something my wife and kids would never tolerate.In the end, however, I should have known I was a fool. I was just deluding myself, and once again my wife proved smarter than I’ll ever be. The loneliness crushed me even before I strolled out of the airport. As I sat in the terminal waiting for my family’s plane to depart, I glanced down and realized I was holding my daughters’ winter coats, and they looked so small and empty. It was then I realized just what I put on that jet plane. And I broke down. I’ve been missing them every since.Yesterday was Thanksgiving and after careful thought and a great deal of time spent alone this past week to reflect on my life, I realize I have a lot for which to be thankful.
I am in love with my wife, who, no matter how many years go by, still believes in me and somehow knows I’ll make good. I’m thankful for my kids and how they greet me at the door each night with smiles, hugs and calls to “Daddy.”In some bizarre way, I’m also grateful for the things I don’t have. I’m thankful for my lack of privacy, personal space and free time. I’m thankful that someone is always calling my name if not in a shameless bid for attention – this includes my wife – then because a major household disaster is looming, like the spotting of a spider or an overflowing toilet.Most of all, however, I’m thankful for the noise. Without my family my life is sadly quiet. Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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