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Dealing with Distance

map My older Sister N is very very pregnant. Due any day. She has two little girls at home and she is expecting a boy. This reality is revolutionary for the Donnelley fam for two important reasons; (1) She will be the first of us to go the three-kids route; and (2) She will be the first to have a mixed-gender family. Up until recently, we were pretty convinced that we Donnelley girls produce either girls or boys.

Needless to say, we are all very excited. We are waiting for the word to hop a plane and head to Chicago to see her and her new little guy. Now that I have two babes of my own, I crave details I wouldn't have years ago. I want to know about dilation and effacement and the spacing of contractions. I want to know about the ever-shifting list of baby names. I am a tiny bit obsessed with baby names.

Maybe it's because my family has been through a lot in the past two years, but there is something about my sister's pregnancy that makes me kind of sad. That something? That she is relatively far away. That I can't witness firsthand her wacky cravings. That I can't place my hand on her belly when I want to feel a kick hello. That I can't look her in the eye when we talk about excitement and fear and crib colors.

I know that I have little to complain about. I live minutes from Mom and very close to 80% 75% of my sisters. I am lucky in that Sister N and her family come here fairly often, that our little girls get to play. But still.

There is a certain devastation in distance.

Even as I write this post, as I inch toward some undetermined conclusion, I try to determine what it's all about. Is this really about family? Yes. It is. Even as I wade further into the land of adulthood, my identity is rooted firmly in family soil. Even though I am a Rowley, I will always be a Donnelley. Even though I am a wife and mother, I will always be a daughter and a sister. So, yes, this is about family.

This is about physical distance. This is about miles that separate. About tickets and rides. This is about phone calls instead of coffee dates. This is about imagination over observation.

This is about metaphorical distance. This is about separation. Natural and forced. This is about emotional and existential gulfs. This is about the passage of time, the evolution of selves, the complication of worlds.

This is about mourning the distance, the necessary distance, in whatever form it takes, that manifests as we get older and start leading our own lives. And welcoming new ones. Distance from people we love, and places we love. Distance from childhood. From the way things once were. From who we once were.

N - I am not sure you will read this, but if you do, please know that I am thinking about you and that I cannot wait for your call. Please know that even though I am not very good at expressing it sometimes, I miss you. I wish we were there with you, or that you were here with us. Especially now. I can't wait to come see you, and him. I can't wait for the distance to fade, to give you a hug, and to toast the expansion of this wild and woolly family of ours. I love you.


Are you distant - physically or emotionally - from your family of origin or others you love? If so, how do you deal with this distance? Any seasoned advice about surviving life with three kids?

***On Friday, I wrote a post bemoaning my family's latest tumble into sickness and asking you to leave a comment to help Haiti. I am thrilled and touched to announce that 148 comments were left, raising a total of $296 for the Red Cross. I announced on Twitter yesterday that if I received 150 comments ($300), I would double my donation. Well, this is my blog and I am going to round 148 to 150. I will donate $600 today. Thank you for your words and support. Oh, and we are all feeling much better. For now, at least!***

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