Far From the Tree

“Landed”, it says.
Landed safely. Always a relief.

Waiting with welling anticipation, we left an impossibly tidy house.
A proper welcome. Pirate towels, toys, a full fridge,
Soon to be wreckage.

Doors swish and swish and swish again
As we strain to read tags on bags
Trundled by weary travellers.

It’s their flight! At last, at long last.
The doors give a final sigh
And release our grandchildren.
Subdued. Then smiling. Then running, laughing.
Then grimacing and squirming,
Clamped in hugs.
And behind them their parents. Our children.
Laden, responsible. Grown.
Grateful to let go for a while.

Then it’s into the whirlwind week.
Laughter, fun, food, and the inevitable fight,
Releasing the tensions of rose-tinted expectation.
Kids on shoulders. Snuggling in for a bedtime story.
Plasters on knees. Tears dried.
And the exhaustion. Oh, the exhaustion!

Memories of what we were about
For all those years.
What we were for.

And suddenly it’s over, far too soon.
Back to the airport, no longer welcoming.
Hasty, clumsy embraces. Mumbled farewells. Muffled promises.
Brimming eyes avoided, we turn and walk away
A little too quickly.
No more words. One last wave,
Far enough away to put on the brave face.

And they are gone.

We tell ourselves that our children are happy, that they have a good life.
That our grandchildren, far away, do know us and love us.
That time will fly until we see them again.
That’s what we tell ourselves

But our hearts

Still break.