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From left to right: me, my husband Jeff, mom-in-law Brenda, son Sam, sis-in-law Amy, daughter Riva, bro-in-law Glenn.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t usually write when I have a migraine. It’s because I usually CAN’T write when I’m in pain, or rather, things that I tend to write about are either maudlin or idiotic or boring (or all of the above). However, there is a pressing deadline of my own making that is looming over me — like a sword of Damocles — I must write one blog by Tuesday night, and another by Thursday night. So, this being Tuesday, and not making time to write while our family were visiting from out of town, I find myself in an unenviable position of HAVING to write during a migraine. It was a perfect storm of: A. having booze (again) last night (because I wanted to celebrate and schmooze with family), not being able to sleep until after 2 a.m. (o.k., that one is all me, because I have terrible sleeping habits and rarely get to bed at a decent hour), and then the actual thunderstorms that raged throughout the night, including this morning. The storm brought hard rain, the drumming of hail and a migraine today. My head is like a barometer, and today it was measuring a lot more than just air pressure.

The migraine adds to my sadness about having a house full of family, but admitting and understanding that they had to leave after an all too short visit. They must go back to their jobs, their appointments, their schedules, their dogs, their homes and their lives in such faraway places as Salem, Oregon, or St. Louis, Missouri.

And you get back your house, but you really didn’t mind sharing it at all. So, what if you can walk around without pants and leave dirty dishes in the sink (until your teenage son comes downstairs when he gets hungry and you order him to clear out the sink)? And, certainly, you eat out a lot less — which is a plus because when putting on your yoga pants in the morning was becoming a yoga exercise you never wanted.

Damn it, you love your visiting family! And now you miss them, and think, “Wow. It was so good to see them, just to talk, to spend more time with them, to laugh at all the silly old jokes, and tell new ones!” After a few days, I guess you want them to leave — but to a place that’s only about a 15-minute car drive from you. It’s both selfish and completely understandable.

Unlike a great many people, I lucked out. I love the family I married into. I love my mother-in-law, Brenda, one of the kindest, gentlest, funniest people I have the privilege of knowing. She’s also one of the strongest people I know, like steel inside velvet — I hope she knows how much I admire her.

My brother-in-law, Glenn, is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. This man has more common sense in his pinky than most folks out there, and an incredible ability to fix or rig up just about anything. I’m certain that if his health hasn’t betrayed him so many times in his life, he would have been able to move the earth because he would have figured out the fulcrum point for it. Glenn is also the possessor of great kindness and his little wise cracks are the funniest things ever.

This brings me to one of my closest friends, a woman I’ve known since high school and who is my sister by marriage — Amy. Like her brothers, Glenn and Jeff, Amy possesses a great wit, common sense that is so uncommon today, as well as book smarts. She is erudite, intelligent, open-minded, curious about the world around her and is so tender-hearted that it breaks my own heart. Time and again I am reminded how lucky I am to have her in my life (not someone like her, HER).

These are the people whose houses I would walk by and just drop in, for a cup of tea, a slice of cheese on toast, and great conversation. Simply being in their orbit makes me glad and happy. (Yes, I know those words are synonyms, but they have slightly different meanings, and that is exactly how I feel.)

And now they’ve left. I can’t reach them with a walk or a short drive. I feel bittersweet — although right now, more bitter. I get why we live in different states — jobs and hospitals for us. In a perfect world we’d all live on the same block, or at least in the same city. But, of course, this is far from a perfect world.

I can always pick up the phone and call or text — and do from time to time. But life gets hectic, we all get busy. It is not impossible to keep in touch, but it does take more dedication to do so. Actually, I have no excuses not to do it. Except when my head is hurting and all I really want to do is go back to bed, stick my head under the covers and sleep until the pain goes away.

Time is not my friend here. Come to think of it, time is no one’s friend except maybe diamonds and wine. I refuse to waste any more of it. From now on I will text whenever a thought strikes me to do so — which is more often than I actually reach out to folks. That is a promise.

Written by

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.

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