My sister flew in from Texas this past weekend to surprise me, and it was a short but glorious visit! My husband was kind enough to spend the majority of his weekend watching our boys so I could go fully indulge in the sister time. We shopped, ate, drank, and even impulsively got matching tattoos. It was especially nice of her because this is the first year that she and her family will not be coming home for Christmas. Our first Christmas in 34 years that we have not celebrated together. We have been pretty fortunate to have shared so many holidays together. But alas, with every visit and every homecoming… my sister and I know what comes next. ‘The Rage’.
Hear me out: I know that I am slightly crazy. But here’s the thing. My sister and I are extremely close and actually talk (not just text, people – this is how you know we are close) almost every single day. We share our lives, our worries, our laughs, our triumphs. We fight, we make up, we keep calling. I love the precious visits we get to spend together a couple of times each year. Seeing her whole family brings me immense joy. She is happy in Texas and thriving. Kicking ass at her job, raising my sweet niece, making friends. Life is good. Except for a hot minute after she leaves.
It starts as a sadness, just the normal somber tones that accompany a goodbye. Travel safe. Call when you get home. Hugs and smooches. Maybe misty eyes. We are all getting better at these goodbyes; we cry less and hug more. That in itself makes me sad. But we have adapted to the change and geographical distance and we make peace with it on most days. Until that hot minute creeps up on us.
Immediately after she leaves I feel a twitch in my nose. I wipe it away, but it lingers. I know what it is and I expect it, actually. This little twitch is the resurgence of old, familiar feelings that stem from when she first moved away. I was pregnant at that time and could not wrap my head around her actually moving out of state. I remember the feelings well: How can she leave her family (ME specifically)? Why are we not enough to keep them here? How dare she take away my chance to see my niece grow up? Our kids were supposed to grow up together. She should be here. Why, why why?! Just put every possible egotistical thought you can think of related to this situation on repeat and you will get a good idea of what goes on in my head every time she leaves.
‘The Rage’, as I have affectionately coined it, lasts for about 1-2 days now post-departure. Trust me when I say this is a huge improvement. We hug goodbye and I remind her “I will hate you for the next few days; so sorry I’m not sorry.” I will say it has gotten better. I no longer immediately call her sobbing and begging her to move back home this instant. I have learned now that Illinois is her previous address, not her current home. I respect her decisions and the wonderful life she has made for herself down south. I admire that she has truly curated the life that she wants to live. How many people actually do that with their life? She is amazing.
During ‘The Rage’, though, everything sucks and I hate her stupid moved-away, good for nothing guts. I reminisce over old pumpkin farm pictures of us hanging out with our kids when they were little. I question everything I could have done to contribute to her moving so far from us, and why we were not enough to keep them here. I curse her abandoning, selfish name and the ground she walks on. I feel a bit lost and lonely and weepy. I avoid calling her. Then I call too much. I listen to sad songs and belt them out in my car as I whimper in between verses. I feel pain, sadness, loneliness, disappointment, and loss. I let myself feel the loss fully, grieving the physical proximity of day to day life that we do not share.
And then, just like that, I wake up a day or so later and all is forgiven. I am no longer a weepy psychopath, forever fixated on the past. Snapping back into reality, I remember how much I love this gal and how lucky we are to live in a time where technology allows us to remain close and communicate every single day. We are still close, we are still accessible. We have adapted and our lives have changed, but we choose to remain a constant in each others’ lives. We will always be connected on a deep level, and we will always share much of the same past. Despite ‘The Rage’ visiting a couple of times a year, I know the simple reasons why. We show up for each other. Most importantly of all, we keep calling.
Love you, Lurch. See you soon. Call you tonight.