So Tim is away on business again. And you know what that means, right? It means that there is a Tim-sized hole in this house. It's noticeable. It's apparent. It's lousy.
He used to travel a lot for work. I mean, a lot! Neither of us liked it very much but it was part of the job and so you learn to deal with it. And then he changed jobs and it was only an occasional industry related conference now and again. I still missed him terribly when he was away, but it was such an unusual occurrence that, well one does what one must and we coped. But things changed, as things always do and now he has to travel quite a lot again. And it's necessary. Neither of us much like it. But we manage because, well, there aren't lots of options.
In fact there are exactly two options. The first is to muddle through as gracefully as possible. The second is to whine and complain, grumble and moan about it which doesn't change it at all and would only serve to make us both more miserable and so we do not do that.
What we do though is stay in contact. We text here and there throughout the day when one or the other of us has a moment. He calls every night and we catch up. We both make an effort to think of interesting things to talk about during that call. He might take a photograph that he knows I will enjoy. I will bake cookies for him to enjoy upon his return.
I try to be helpful before he leaves and make sure that everything he needs for the trip is clean and ironed and the suitcase is aired out. He tries to think of something fun for us to do the day before he leaves. I help him with his "check list" in the morning before he walks out the door. He kindly tolerates my fussing and the "check-list" review.
But I think the most important thing that we do to get us through the time we have to spend apart is to really appreciate and enjoy the time we do have together.
When we first got married, Tim was still in the Marine Corps Reserves. That meant one weekend a month and at least two weeks every summer he was gone to drill. But during Desert Storm, that supposed two weeks turned into months as he did desert training in preparation to leave to be a part of that military action. It was a scary time, not knowing if he was going to have to go and if he did go, the question is always, will he come back. I think having that question as a part of our relationship history is a reality check that keeps us appreciating what we have together.
When I was in high school I had friends who fought in the Vietnam war. Some of them did not return. I was always a good and faithful letter writer. If someone wrote to me, I would absolutely write back. There was one fellow in particular that was a really good correspondent. We wrote to each other every single day. But the mail being what it is and mail in a war zone being even worse, sometimes I didn't get a letter from him for weeks at a time. And that's when the worry sets in. So I complained and whined and carried on something awful. But all the fretting and worrying and stressing that I did changed absolutely nothing. Each day would crawl by and the mailman would not bring a letter for me. Day after day of no contact, not knowing what was going on, always leaping to the worse possible scenario. And the hardest part of it was having absolutely zero control over the situation. Then suddenly two weeks worth of letters would arrive in one day. The relief is impossible to adequately describe.
I should have known better. My dad travelled for his business too. He was gone more than he was home during my childhood and often for months at a time. Occasionally he sent my sister and I postcards from where ever he was and that was always a thrill. There were no computers then, no texting, no video chats and long distance phone calls cost more money than he was willing to spend. But those postcards meant the world. I do recall, however, one occasion, when I was very young and my sister was even younger, our dad returning home just before Christmas one year. He burst in the door and expected his girls to run up to him very excited yelling "Daddy's Home". Instead my sister glared at him from across the room. He went to pick her up and she pushed him away, saying, "Get away from me, man". He was devastated. But she honestly had no idea who he was.
We are so fortunate now to have the technology we do to help maintain that connection. Still the best way to have a successful connection despite a geographic separation is an internal process. It's in your heart and in your mind. It's a choice a person makes to trust the other person, to love them, to believe in them, to appreciate them when you are together and when you are apart.
And most of all, when they walk through that door once again, you want them to be glad that they came home again.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.