I have heartache.
When I was little I used to get the post-Christmas blues because of the big letdown after the adrenaline-pumping excitement of opening presents. In fact, the whoosh of sorrow would hit just as the final crackle of wrapping paper of the final opened present subsided . . . and all was silent. It was over. For another year . . . which seemed like an eternity.
Now that I’m nearing 30, the letdown doesn’t happen after the last present is opened anymore. Instead, it’s happening now that we’re back home after 2 incredible weeks with family. I’d been looking forward to this Christmas for pretty much a full year, ever since we agreed that all 3 of us sisters (plus spouses and children) were going to spend the holidays with my parents in their new house in snowy Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
And now that we’re back in Chicago, unpacked and settling into our routine, everything seems strangely quiet. Except that it’s not the crackling of wrapping paper being torn that I miss, but the little voice of James saying “syaaaah!” (his version of “yes,” which intonation-wise goes up and down like a roller coaster), and the murmur of conversation in the kitchen as Dad makes someone a cup of espresso.
I’m entering day 3 of a kind of dragging sadness. I miss the companionship of my sisters.
Next to my husband, they are the best friends I could ever have hoped for.
I miss my mom’s amazing energy and untiring care for all of us, including our kids.
Her ready smile and enthusiasm for talking and singing to our babies was such a joy to me.
I miss my dad’s wonderful way with little Liam, and seeing him hold Alice melted my heart every time.
I miss the togetherness, chaos and crying babies included.
And of course, adoring the babies together as they slept.
In general, looking at my life as a whole, I have my heart’s desires. A relationship with a loving God, an amazing husband, a delightful baby, a wonderful church, health and youth, a great job, financial security.
There are very few (if any) things I long for that I don’t feel able to reach out for by God’s grace and grasp. But one of my dearest desires for this life would be–is–living close to my sisters so that we can raise our families together and be there for each other as we keep learning, changing, maturing and becoming (hopefully) more godly wives and mothers.
But all 3 of us living in the same city is just not going to happen in this life–at least for the duration of our working lives. With two army husbands and my darling academic who will have to follow the job market wherever it may lead once he finishes his PhD, the probability of ending up in the same place is minuscule, if not entirely nonexistent.
I feel powerless to realize this desire. And yet the desire won’t be pushed aside in my heart. I want to see Liam learn to sit up, laugh, scooch around. I want to be there to listen to James’ sing-songy conversation as it becomes more and more coherent.
I want my sisters to be around and share in my joy as Alice fattens up and smiles her goofy and enthusiastic “good morning” smile, the one she dons when she first spots our faces from her bassinet after a night’s sleep or a nice nap.
But I don’t get my way in this. There’s nothing I can do to make it happen.
I hate feeling so powerless.
I’m trying to urge my heart to hope for heaven, when the sting will be taken out of all goodbyes because we have eternity ahead. Theoretically that knowledge should also take some of the sting out of this particular goodbye . . . right? If I really believe eternity is ahead (which I do)?
But somehow I can’t shake the sadness of now, when I desire but can’t have.