As some may know, Chris's grandmother Nina has been gravely ill for a few weeks. At about 6pm our time last night she passed away. It's been a rollercoaster ride of emotions but she is now free of suffering. Chris is doing okay. He's always been close to Nina and it has been hard to experience her slowly slipping away. It's a strange sensation, being separated from the physical reality of illness. Being far away, we rely entirely on others to fill us in on what's going on. Your mind can paint all sorts of pictures. It's vaguely comforting to know that Nina's struggle has come to an end but hard to know that for some (like Chris's grandfather) a different kind of struggle has only just begun. My thoughts are with everyone in Tennessee.
As I type Chris is on his way to the Hobart airport to begin the long journey back to Tennessee. He will be there for a week. I can never go back to sleep (Chris has a 6am flight to Melbourne) until I know the flight has left. Hopefully sleep will be relatively easy considering we've had about 5 hours sleep over the last 2 days. Although one nice thing about being up early is hearing the birds. The city is so quiet at 4:30am, it's practically the only time you can hear them.
We made the difficult decision of Chris traveling on his own for many reasons. Having to organise overseas travel within a few hours is complicated by things like work, finances and kitties. It initially seemed like Chris would have to leave yesterday at 6am, only three hours after learning things had taken a turn for the worse. Thankfully, we vetoed that and took 24 hours to pack, tie up loose ends and gather strength for the coming days. It's been terribly hard to watch the grieving process. I want so much to make it better for Chris but I know from experience (after losing my special grandfather in 2000) that only time will heal the sadness. He's a strong guy and I'm so proud of him for making the journey to TN.
For me, I think I've been surprised by how it feels to stay behind. I feel guilty and inept (this word has been on constant replay in my head for days). My hands feel achingly empty. I think about everyone rallying together later in the week and feel ridiculously stupid being here. Like I'm floating in space and shouting into the darkness. I feel frustrated by the constraints of money, distance and random commitments. Most of all (and I feel awfully guilty about this as well), I miss Chris. With every minute I feel more and more distance between us. My instincts push towards providing comfort during times of grief and all I'm able to do is rattle around this house wondering what's happening on the other side of the world. Talking to the cat, trying to keep busy with sewing projects - wanting the time to go faster and faster.
We were talking this morning about how this trip away feels a little like our first time apart. Back in 2002, Chris had to go back to the USA for visa purposes and we were unsure of when/if he'd be able to return. It took over six months before we knew he could come back. There have been many times since then that we've gone off and done our own thing - to Melbourne, to Burnie etc. This time, a week is a WHOLE lot better than six months but it still has a little bite, given what we've been through before I guess. Not to mention the vast distance between here and there.
I s'pose all this is saying is that Chris means the world to me. I notice when he's gone. He's my husband and my best friend. Anyone would want to be there for their best friend.
If you can, drop him a line on Facebook or through his blog. He'll most likely check Facebook quite often. Otherwise, he'll be back late on the 19th.