My suitcase is heavy. It sits, crouched in my room, next to the closet. I haven't had the nerve to unpack it yet. It looms, pregnant with unrealized dreams, frustrations and what could have been. I try to ignore it. I don't do a very good job. Every time I walk into the room, there it is.
Sixteen days. Seems like a lifetime ago. That's when I kissed plump cheeks goodbye, squeezed sticky hands with admonishments to "be good", and climbed into my father-in-law's car to drive to the airport with my husband. I had high hopes, but didn't really know what to expect. We hadn't been away together for any length of time since the children were born. We were ready.
And it was wonderful. Awesome, even. We drove down the coast of New Zealand, stopping wherever our hearts lead us. We had no agenda, and no qualms about enjoying the company of one another. Memories were made that will last a lifetime. That's the problem.
I had to come home. And I can't see home the same anymore. I have never allowed myself to consider what life would have been like without my children. It is what it is, is my motto, why push it? But for sixteen glorious days, I was not a mother. I was just…me. With him. And it was wonderful. My heart was full. No tethering to others' needs or whims. I was free. It couldn't last, and it didn't.
I had thirteen hours en route to LAX to forget that bliss; to morph back into a mother who puts her children first again. But those shoes aren't fitting very well. I am aware that makes me an awful, selfish person. And it is why my suitcase is heavy. It is a constant reminder of what I had. And unpacking it means I will ferret it away into a closet, forgetting what it was like to live from it for weeks. Unpacking would be putting to rest the adventurer and the free spirit I was two weeks ago. And I am just not ready to do that.
And the guilt? The guilt is palpable. I can taste it on my tongue, metallic and bitter, like I need to brush my teeth. I want to be that mother again, but I don't know how. I almost wish I had never gone, because now? Now I am back. And I know what I am missing, every minute, of every day.
My suitcase is heavy, but not as heavy as my heart.
T, who hopes I will get over this