The odometer mileage reads nine lonely years without you and still counting.
The map of this long distance road trip has charted volumes of days and years of celebrations, milestones and everyday “nothings” whose travels intersect each other’s lives from time to time; the most recent reunion being nine long months ago; a lifetime if you’re asking.
This road trip of itineraries finds us on opposite sides of one-way streets most of the time with posted signs prohibiting U-Turns to re-wind the moments that have slipped through the grasp of our fingers.
U-turns not allowing us to re-trace the steps we’ve missed with one another while following the map of our long distance love.
It’s difficult to enjoy this long distance road trip when the scenery we’re meant to enjoy with you is viewed from the rear view mirror. This constant looking back and remembering, recalling and longing for those sacred occasions we spent together as a family weighs heavy on the heart over time.
A Papa’s lap feels lonesome for hungry babies to share his food while sitting together around the kitchen table.
A Papa wishes he was crowded again on the couch with you to watch the same movie for the hundredth time.
One can’t listen to the engines roar of an airplane soaring overhead without re-living our baggage claim hellos, reacquainting ourselves with you and your sweet smell we have yearned for over the months.
Only to be saddened by our tearful good-byes and empty arms days and weeks later.
But happiness is always a choice.
We don’t want to be sad because our arms can’t reach you from the other side of the world. We choose to be excited watching you experience life in these amazing places most will never see.
Your passport is full of stamped adventures and we choose to encourage you to squeeze every drop of them while enjoying the ride.
We choose not to cry for every address change that takes you further and further away from us; well, at least not in front of you. Your steps are ordered by God and we can’t be selfish when God has other plans; a great plan for you.
Thankfully Papa and Gaga can enjoy their long distance love for you through pictures, Facetime and warmed from your laughter over the telephone.
Our hearts do feel the pang though watching you blow out your birthday candles every year without us being there; hurt even more with us unable to relish your birthday excitement as you open your gifts.
So many “first day of school” milestones we’ve had to enjoy from our side of the camera lens.
You know the little kid in Papa would brave the cold to share your December days sledding, creating snowmen, and sipping on hot chocolate topped with marshmallows (lukewarm for you) to warm ourselves when back inside the house.
Our hearts break every Christmas when the only request on your gift list is a visit from your grandparents. Keeping tradition though, we gather around the family tree each Christmas morning to see what Santa brought you, albeit by Facetime.
Nothing says bedtime better than a trip to the moon and stars and back before getting warm under the covers. The places we unfortunately are unable to visit together between the chapters and pages of your library books, but we tuck you faithfully in at night in our prayers, believing for sweet dreams and angels watching until morning.
Long distance love is terribly hard on a grandparent. Witnessing your life through our side of the window when arms are desperate to reach into your life where a fresh breeze of our love can freely hold you without the separation of glass.
No doubt the pain is equally great on a grandchild feeling left behind of all the family celebrations, holidays at Papa and Gaga’s house, missing out on weekend sleepovers, cousin time, Sunday dinners and cookie jar sneaks at their grandparents.
But a grandparent’s long distance love flies on angel wings to wherever their grand-babies live.
A grandparent’s love is left at their baby’s doorstep, their chair at the kitchen table, the toy room, under their pillow and can find them wherever their little feet will take them.
Yes, Papa and Gaga choose to be happy for the few opportunities we are blessed to spend together in person each year, and celebrate the intentional and unexpected surprises the remainder of the calendar with you through the looking glass of the phone.
It’s just your eyes reaching for us through the rear view mirror that rips one’s heart apart and makes our long distance love undeniably painful; sometimes agonizing.
You change by the minute and grow even faster.
But remember our long distance love will never change for you.
We are a phone call away, and sometimes a plane trip when we can.
Happiness is a choice.
We choose to keep our tears at a minimum.
We choose to love you,
No matter the miles,
No matter the cost,
No matter if the road-trip ever runs out of road,
Because our long distance love
will never fail to find you any place on the map.