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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Heart Sickness

So I haven't written in a while -- almost a month. And considering that I had been on a writing roll, I hate to see that the silence started to set in again. But, you see, the holidays are upon us, and ever since Thanksgiving I have found myself suffering from something I've named The Heart Sickness. It's that feeling that lingers, even though rationally and logically you may see no reason for it, you feel this constant heavy sorrow despite your smiling "game face."

My little girl will be leaving me today to spend Christmas with her father, just as she spent Thanksgiving with him too. And one would think that I would be used to it by now. I've been doing this for so many years, I should be numb to it, right? I should take this time to eat and drink and be merry with my friends, and I should do it in style...without the "game face." I should be ready for the break, I should be ready for an overdose of spiked egg nog, but I never am.

I was tucking her in last night and as I was giving her a hug she said, "I'm going to miss you, Mom, but I don't want you to be lonely without me. You always say you won't be, but I know that you are." So I smiled at her and I kissed her on the cheek and I said, "You're going to have a good Christmas, you're going to have fun, and I promise you that I won't be lonely." And with that I turned out the light and walked away with my Super Woman cape trailing behind me. But in the silence of my own room the Super Woman cape turns into nothing more than a worthless sheet, and I realize that my daughter knows me every bit as well as I know her.

The truth is, I will be lonely without her. I will miss hearing her little voice sing Christmas songs as she bounces around the house. I will miss her while driving in the dark since she's the one who so eagerly points out the houses with lights on them. I will miss her begging me to make cookies for Santa, even though I'm pretty sure she no longer believes. I will miss dressing her up on Christmas Eve and watching her restlessly shift in her seat at church because the best part is yet to come. As I go through my yearly Santa Clause ritual, and quietly place her gifts under the tree when I'm certain she's fast asleep, I will miss her because she'll be fast asleep in California...far away from me. And when the sun comes up on Christmas morning, I will miss her because she wasn't here to jump on my bed and force me out of it with her smile.

And so now you understand the heart sickness. Out of all the times, as a single parent, I may feel tired and need a break...Christmas isn't one of them. The childhood years are passing quickly. The hormone ridden adolescent years are waiting for me right around the corner, and when those years come Christmas will be little more for her than status quo -- she will graciously partake in the Christmas Eve festivities, she will politely endure the company of surrounding adults, and she will sleep late on Christmas morning because, special day or not, it's basically the same every year. And so, eight years later, I still feel the familiar sting of divorce; not because I love the man, not because I still hurt from the misery that was our marriage, but because we made this beautiful child together and we split her, 50/50, like we did everything else. The difference is, when it comes to her, something deep down still feels like "family should be together."

I apologize for being such a downer on this 19th day of December. But if I hadn't said it, the silence would have continued. And I'm working hard to write both in and out of the blog and the silence, for a writer, is deadly. So take from this whatever you will. I promise to be a bit more entertaining in the days to come. And for all the single parents out there, wearing their Superhero capes, enjoy the festivities, game face or not. Have a glass of egg nog for yourself and one for me, and I will do the same for you. I have a feeling that you all know exactly what I'm talking about because you have all thought it at one point or another. I just happened to say it out loud.

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