I see them at the trampoline as I look out the windows, doing the dishes from breakfast. I see them in the bathroom, Virginia putting makeup on as I did, and in the perfume atomizer she took apart. I see them in the board games left on the table, and in the posters they did for their mom who raced today in the Raleigh Rock and Roll half marathon. I see them in the mounds of laundry, as I gather the clothes they left behind, which I will wash prior to mailing them tomorrow.
They left an hour ago, the three granddaughters and our daughter, for a seven hour drive back to Georgia where they live. They took a big piece of my heart with them. I can hear eight year old Elsie say, “Nana, I don’t want to go home!” 10 year old Mary Grace has already called, saying they might be able to stay in Raleigh for three weeks this summer, but ,”We will have to talk to daddy about it.” This weekend was the end of two weeks with soon to be three year old Virginia, and I can hear “Nana, where are you!?” ringing in my ears. (I am here, Virginia, but where are you?!) Mary Grace and Elsie and their parents were with us for a week’s vacation and Easter, and then went home for school, leaving Virginia with us since the girls and their mom were coming back to Raleigh this weekend for the marathon.
I can only imagine how my grandmother Grace must have grieved when my mother took me, who was nine years old at the time, from her to live in Virginia. I had lived in Alabama with my grandmother since I was less than two. Or how Shirshee, a chosen grandmother to Tara since she was born, must have grieved when I moved from Alabama to North Carolina in 1981, taking five year old Tara with me. Neither of these grandmothers had the luxury of frequent travel, so there would be many months between their visits with these children they loved. I can now begin to understand their sense of loss each time they parted.
These granddaughters of ours have lived in Georgia since the first one, Mary Grace, was born and we have lived in Raleigh all those same years. Yet, I have not missed a month seeing her or the others granddaughters that followed in these now more than ten years. I made a decision that as long as I was able to I would travel at least monthly to be with them, and I have been so blessed to have been able to do so. While it hasn’t always been easy, it has been possible, and since it was a commitment, not just an idea, we have made it work. The partings aren’t any easier, however, even when we know we will be together again within a month.
Just like most of life’s major lessons, we have to experience them to understand them. I now understand how Grandmother Grace and Shirshee must have felt as they waved goodbye, not knowing for how long.