When Thomas Haynes Bayly wrote Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I think he missed the mark by about a foot. The truth is that distance and time make it easy to shove that fondness onto your heart's back burner, where it can simmer with very little attention for years.

Then comes Something Big, and all the sudden it's not on simmer anymore; it's coming to a boil and you feel a deep need to close that distance and pop that absence like a zit on the buttocks of your existence. Once you do, you suddenly realize that you're missing something so much it almost hurts, and you were using that back burner to keep from scalding yourself.

Mixed-metaphorical enough for ya? I wax not so much poetically or eloquently as I do in a mumbling an incoherent way...

I know I missed my parents and sisters and nieces and nephews, but until I went and popped that zit, I didn't know how much. And I certainly didn't know how much more I would miss them when I had to leave for home. I am the Evil Bad Seed--I hadn't been back to see them for 13 years...yes, I am painfully aware that's more than a decade. It's not as if it was intentional. Other Life Zits kept popping up: health issues, money issues. Money and health at the same time. We'd tell ourselves in January that We Will Go Forth To Texas This Summer, but then we'd wind up owing a fortune in taxes or we'd have to move, and there was the whole Doctor Hop when I was dx'd with FMS, and then the whole brain tumor thing... We had reasons that weren't just excuses, but it didn't change the fact that I wasn't seeing my family.

And then I did. One phone call had us scrambling for plane tickets and a car reservation, without much thought how we'd pay for it. It wasn't Can we afford this? but How soon can we get a plane out?

And then in waves it hit me. I missed them. I missed them before, but I really missed them.

Other things hit me, too, things I knew but didn't really know. My sisters are pretty cool people. They're generous and kind; we could have stayed with any of them for the week (sister #2 drew the short straw, heh) and it would have been comfortable. They're deeply caring and loving; for that week someone was always sitting with our mother, not out of a sense of have-to, but a personal sense of need-to and of want-to. And trust me, there's a world of difference there. In those moments where the child becomes the parent, even on a temporary basis, they were right there, doing anything they could for my mom.

I got a very new sense of my siblings as adults, and ya know what? They turned out pretty good. And that's no small feat, and a testament to how we were raised, I think.

And my dad...he is so adorable you'd pretty much just want to drink him in like a blue raspberry Slurpee. He turns 80 next month. Eighty. There's only one person older in the entire family tree, I think, and it's not by much.

My mom is doing quite well it seems; she's getting up on her own and shuffling around the physical rehab ward, and she sounds really good on the phone. But she still needs to eat...apparently the hospital food sucks donkey balls.

There won't be another 13 years before I go back; summer won't be allowed to fade into autumn before we return, I don't think (so keep your fingers crossed that I sell my car, and that the owner of our house doesn't decide we need to move...) I don't want to let time and distance make me shove those feelings onto the back burner again. I want to miss them as much as I do right now. Missing them keeps them right here.

If you can't be around the people you love, missing them is pretty decent.

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