Flying Visits, Flown Chicks

Eight days went so fast, a blur, it’s almost as if he was never here.

Ben came home for the briefest visit. We had not seen him, our grown up son, for more than a year.

I filled my fridge with foods I knew he’d love, foods he couldn’t have enjoyed where he was in his part of the world, I stocked shelves with beer, that we might crack open cold each evening. 

We ate late leisurely breakfasts in a shaded spot of a sunny garden so that he could enjoy long green views. We drank those cold beers in the same spot where the valley spilled a million miles below us, spun with light and wreathed with dusk and dust, so that he might drink up his Africa.  We ate supper, the three of us, at a table properly laid, not to waste a single precious second of his company or conversation.

And I think now, everything that was ordinary in childhood became an occasion. 

I wrung every drop out of every minute. We walked miles, he and I, plodding our way through fields and up hills and step counting as we put the world to rights. There was so much to say, so much that is stripped of warmth over a screen, so much that becomes real when you can touch an arm or a face or a hand.  I wanted to pinch myself, ‘he’s home’.

And still I worry, did I make the most of it. Could I have milked more of his time in hours that I let slip through my fingers. 

Already he is gone so long it’s as if he was never here. Like a tide that runs across a beach and takes the sandcastle with it so that evidence of fun and games and laughter is gone, levelled to nothing.  You can’t believe you only built it the evening before.

Tomorrow there will be no breakfast in a sun drenched garden; tomorrow I will eat muesli out of a mug at my desk again.

And I wonder, did I dream this?

Except I know that I didn’t for everywhere I look, I can see gaps. And the hole in my heart, the one I fill with jam making, is dug deep and weeps.

So I know he was here. He was home. For a bit.

8 Responses to “Flying Visits, Flown Chicks”

  1. Tamsin Hickson Says:

    You’ve been posting more frequently lately and I’ve loved that – but this post has brought me out of the anonymous shadows where I usually lurk! I grew up in South Africa, so a nostalgia brought me to your blog in the first place but it’s been the familiarity of the emotions that you express that have kept me reading, even though we live on different continents. The emotional work of being a mother is common to us all – I now live in Italy and my sons (24 and 29) study at universities only a few hours away but every time they leave after a short stay I feel the loss sharply. You describe it beautifully, the levelling of the sandcastle you have built together…and those long walks, talking. Please keep posting more!

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Tamsin, what a very kind comment – thank you for reading and for continuing to read. I’m glad your sons aren’t too far away so that you can see them from time to time. I hate the not being able to see those I love, or know when I might see them again. Stay safe X

  2. Addy Says:

    I know that feeling only too well. Sending (((Hugs)))

  3. Pollylou Says:

    Lucky you for the visit. With 2 of my children living overseas (London and Shanghai) we have not seen them now for over a year and who can know when.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Hi Pollylou – yes, indeed, very lucky. I hope the world finds its centre again soon and we can all reconnect with family. Thank you for reading.

  4. Daryl Says:

    As always very moving writing.

    And this post particularly makes me reflect on what it must have been like for my mother back in the 1980s on a tea plantation in Mufindi, Tz, having her children home for the holidays before packing us onto the long flight back to boarding school in England.

    Sitting on that plane flying out of Dar was always the worst part for me. But I, at least, had friends to look forwarding to seeing at school. She just had an empty house, quiet until we returned three months later, with only a weekly letter for communication.

    It must have been incredibly hard.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you Daryl. Yes, especially in lonely, far flung places like Mufindi, that is hard. I’m so lucky that our connectivity now is so great. It’s not the same, but it’s much better than it was … keep safe and well.

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