I dance when I stub my toe. I’m certain that most, if not all, of you share that instinctive reaction with me. The dancing seems to cut short the pain. I don’t think that it alleviates it at all, but the distraction of movement seems to keep it from sinking in too deeply. To stay still would be to linger and dwell on the pain.
At the air port Jess wanted to linger. It seemed that she would never be done with taking pictures. In the stillness of those moments I could feel the reality of leaving my family once more sinking in. My heart sped up, I could feel the heat rising in my head, and the flood was coming fast. My instinct was to move. I needed the distraction to keep the pain from driving deeper. I’m sure that for her the stillness helped. The longer she kept our little family intact the longer she could delay her pain, but I couldn’t hold out any longer. I had to go.
I feel a bit melodramatic writing in this way about such a short separation. I can only empathize in a small way with those military guys who’ve been away from their families for many months. It is only a month after all. A month seems like an eternity in the life of an infant. I think about how much he’ll change in this month and how many of those precious “firsts” I will miss. I’m going from hanging out with my bud every day to being a world away. The distance, I think, makes it more real. Leaving Jess has always been difficult. Leaving that little boy seemed nearly impossible. I’m sure that you other parents can relate.
I can’t tell if it was God softening the blow or the Devil driving it home, but on the first of my three flights there were two boys about the same age as Dawit. They both sat across the aisle in their mother’s arms. One was a row ahead of me the other a row behind. I tried not to stare, but I could hardly help it. They had the same wide grins and that same hearty little giggle as Dawit. The little guy in the row ahead would stare back at me with those same wide, alert, blue eyes and smile.
During my last trip Jess and I promised never to part in this way ever again. We would only make these trips together because the separations are just too tough. Never say what you will or will not do. Doing so almost insures that you will not or will do that very thing.
So there it is, after a long plane ride and a few hours sleep I’m up at three in the morning with no choice but to be still. The lightning flashing from the storm outside lights my cold, bare, little room reminding me of those last few moments in the airport as Jess forced me to linger. The only distraction now is the soothing hush of the driving rain on the roof and the crash of the thunder. I guess you can’t dance forever.