“I miss your brother,” Freya commented about an hour after we dropped him back at his hotel.
He had flown to Holland from the US on business and had popped over to Norwich for two days on his way back. We’d had a lovely time with him but, knowing it will be a while before we see him again, I was certainly feeling a bit maudlin.
“I miss him too,” I said.
“It would be good if he could live in Norwich.”
“It would,” I agreed, although I know that’s not going to happen. His life (and family) is there.
“We could see him all the time.”
“You could do things with him.”
“I could. We all could.”
“And now he’s gone.”
“Now he’s gone,” I agreed.
Then, with typical five year old aplomb, she shrugged her shoulders and said: “Circle of life, I guess.”
Not quite, little one, but it certainly made me chuckle.
You’d think I’d be used to him leaving by now. He has lived in the states for many years. At first there was no FaceTime and phone calls were still expensive so we really only caught up when I went over to visit each year, pre-Freya.
If it was just me – and not my parents too – he would pick me up from Dulles International and, in a bid to stave off jet lag, we would drive to the local Barnes and Noble, in whatever neighbourhood he was living, and I’d look at pretty journals (you couldn’t get them over here then), browse the books and enjoy a hot chocolate at a certain coffee shop chain (also not over here then).
If you know me, you know I’m addicted to peppermint hot chocolate from that very chain (now practically everywhere) but I’ll let you into a secret; at least part of the reason I always like going there is because it reminds me of him. It’s the little things.
I’m lucky in that although he is gone, he isn’t gone. I can still email him, send him quotes from Ferris Bueller and get a response (no one else in the family gets that film) and see him via FaceTime. He has always been an amazing brother and I know if I needed him he would drop everything and come but I think I’ve almost got used to not needing him, as sad as that sounds. It’s just easier.
I was thinking about what Freya said later that night and maybe the five-year-old approach has some merit. While it’s not quite the ‘circle of life’ it is certainly ‘life’. There’s nothing to be done about it, I can’t make him stay – and wouldn’t want to as I know he wouldn’t be happy – so we just need to make the most of it while he is here and the best of it while he’s not.
Do you have relatives who live abroad? How do you cope with missing them?