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.

17 thoughts on “Heartache

  1. Suzie

    I don’t really have family like you do. I have my husband’s side and we see them only on holidays pretty much. I know how close you are to your family and sisters, so I can imagine it’s hard. I will pray that the blues will soon pass. Hope you have a wonderful new year Jenna! xoxo

  2. Vesselina

    Thank you for (so eloquently) putting into words what I know many are feeling right now, and what I inevitably go through each trip to Bulgaria… The exhilaration of all the hellos and the tears of each goodbye. I know the passing of time and re-establishing routine will soothe some of it, but I’ll pray for the rest of that aching that won’t go away until you are reunited.

  3. Veronica

    This may sound weird, but your longing for something that can not be makes me feel the same way I did for Harry Potter who so desperately wanted his parents, who were dead. So terribly heartsick for you! You really never totally know anything for certain, and God can certainly move mountains, but like you said the likelihood is dim. All I can say is I’m sorry and I hope this terrible yearning heartache eases as you continue to revel in your growing daughter and your own little family. And truly, this earth is not our home, and you have the right idea to think of our eternal one in heaven where there will be no more heartaches like these. I wonder how much we will laugh over the short blip our lives on Earth were once we were there?

  4. Thekitchwitch

    I loved seeing all of the pictures of your beautiful family. And you are so, so lucky to have the sisterly bond that you do. And yes, I’m sure you miss them already. ((you))

  5. Patti

    It looks like you had a wonderful family vacation together. I’m sorry you’re missing your sisters, you should start to plan another get together, that way you’ll be looking forward to seeing them again, rather than thinking that it’s over 😀

  6. facie

    I can completely relate to this. My little family lives in PA, my little brother and his family live in TX, and my older brother and his family live in NC, about an hour from my dad. Fortunately my mom is just over an hour away from me. When my siblings “come home” (to my mom’s), I focus too much on the quantity, because I never know when we will see each other again. The weather did not cooperate with us this year, and although I did get to spend several days with each brother and family, we did not get together all at once, which made me sad.

    As nuts as this sounds, I have at times fantasized about teleportation, just because I miss my family and all those kids. Hang in there!

  7. Erin

    Your holidays seemed so magical & lovely. I hope you’re starting to feel a little better. I know how hard it is to be away from family.

    I hope you don’t mind my asking – what church do you belong to? My little family is looking for a new congregation. If you don’t wish to answer publicly, please feel free to email me. Thank you.


    1. Jenna Post author

      Hi Erin! I am starting to feel a little better–I guess time will help things get easier.
      As far as churches, we go to Holy Trinity Church (non-demoninational but very Presbyterian-esque). The website is: http://www.htcchicago.org/, and there are 4 locations in the city. We go to the Northside location that meets at Blaine Elementary in the auditorium. I’d love to meet you! Let me know if you decide to check it out. =)

      1. Erin

        Thanks for the link, Jenna. We’ll definitely look into it. I will let you know if / when we decide to attend a service.

        I’d love to meet you too. We’re basically in the same neighborhood; we should set up a time to say hello maybe over a cup of coffee or tea. It would be nice to have a new mom friend and playmate for the little guy.

  8. Kimby

    Jenna, your heartache musings hit home… just said goodbye to my lovely sis, too, and missed her more with each mile in the rearview mirror. Blessed be the tie that binds… xo.

  9. Layla

    Totally random question, where could I find the black modesty leggings that go under a skirt, like your sister is wearing in the 3rd picture down? With being pregnant I’ll probably want to wear more stretchy skirts for comfort, and would love something like that to go under it, but I can’t find them anywhere online, but it probably doesn’t help that I don’t know what they’re called either. Thanks!

    1. Jenna

      Hey Layla! I think they’re called capri-length leggings, though you can find capri-length opaque stockings too. I’ve found them at Target in the past in the stockings section–hope that helps!


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