There is an unnatural quietness about my apartment tonight. My son is sleeping, my cat is watching the rain dripping from the branches outside the window. Even the neighbors are silent. The strangeness is coming from the hole in our still-forming family fabric where Li was this morning and now…is not. She is at her home now—900 miles away. Last night she paced and fretted and wrote me pages of beautiful prose while I do what I always do in times of stress: hibernate. Evidently I slept so soundly that I have no recollection of asking her, upon her return to bed in the early morning hours, whether she had been out buying bread and was she playing golf? (I talk in my sleep a lot.)
So here I am. Not ready to climb into my empty bed alone. Not ready to face the fact that she has been here, part of our daily routine, part of myself, for more than 2 weeks, and now she…is not. When I returned home from the airport I came into utter stillness. Missing was the laughter that punctuates our day. Missing were the fervent discussions of theology and quantum physics. Missing was the knowledge that she watches me at mundane tasks, a smile playing around her eyes, her love for me in evidence at all times. Missing was the sound of my son avidly telling her of his day upon his return home from school. Missing was her inclusion in his bedtime rituals. Missing are her kisses at the back of my neck while I type this.
In all fairness, I imagine we’ve been luckier than some who live far, far away from each other as we’ve managed visitations for at least 8 to 10 days out of every month since the end of December. Yet, each leaving becomes more difficult. Each time we are returned back to our respectful homes and reconnect via the invisible umbilical that is Verizon Wireless, I feel more and more out of sync with what should be our lives. I worry constantly about the coming months. My son and I are scheduled to move in early July. We have no place to live, we have no money saved. On the one hand the time can’t come fast enough, on the other, I’m terrified that I won’t have the resources in place to get there in 3 months.
Li has such strong Faith and is positive that everything will work out. I am having a disconnect with God. I have been faltering in my daily conversations. I’m having trouble laying the groundwork and then getting out of the way so that He can help. Control is a tough thing for me to give up and it is something that Li and I talk about often—particularly on Sundays after Church when I get so very frustrated at my lack of trust these days. I am forever in awe of how she can maintain such a closeness with the God of her understanding (who, it so happens, is pretty much the same God of my understanding as well) when she’s been 2 years without a job and still has Faith that the right opportunity is out there and within arms reach now. I look ahead and see roadblocks and danger signs and red lights flashing and can’t imagine how I’m going to make all of this happen.
And she says no. It’s not just you anymore.
So I am missing her presence and trying to make sense of our separateness while at the same time I am working on letting go and letting God. I’m stalled on both fronts. I would like to be able to trust that all is well and all will be as it should. I’d like to stop being such a control freak and let the God of my understanding do the work that I keep insisting on trying to do myself, however unsuccessfully. I’d like Li to be here now. (I know: me, me, me.)
One of my favorite scenes in Out of Africa takes place between Karen Blixen and Farah after she has sold her farm and is preparing to move back to Denmark. Farah wants to know how it will be between them, now that she will be so far away. Blixen asks him if he remembers how it was on Safari when she would send him ahead to look for a camp and he would wait for her. He would build a fire and she would come to this place, and she says yes, it will be like that…only this time she will go ahead and build a fire. He asks if it is far where she is going and she says yes, very far. He then says, “You must make this fire very big, so I can find you.”
In December, I built a small fire and Li came to me and we began to set up camp, both in our hearts and in this home. Now, she has gone very far and she is preparing to make this fire very big so that I can see it. When I see this fire I will know that my place is settled and it is safe to go. She will not make this fire alone, even as I had help blowing softly on the sparks of the love that brought us together in the first place.