Closing the Distance

I’m not good with distance. I like to be close.

Anyone who knows me, knows this. I’m not one to give a distant greeting. If I haven’t seen you in a while, a smile or wave won’t do. I’m a hugger. I love to pull people in close. Heart to Heart. It warms me in a way nothing else can.

I’m sure it comes from how I was raised. My family has always been crazy close. In my childhood home, my father fashioned a bed that could fit the seven of us, so we could all snuggle up together. And still, to this day, on any given Sunday, you can find my family huddled together on my sister’s wrap around couch, perfectly content without an inch between us.

To me, being close is an inherent calling.

But life doesn’t always grant us that luxury.

My oldest sister lives with her husband and my two nephews in Guam.

They are an Air Force family and haven’t lived at ‘home’ for about 12 years. From the time they relocated to South Dakota, to Sicily, and now Guam, I’ve missed the opportunity to hold my littles as they’ve grown. I’m so proud of all that my brother-in-law has accomplished in his service. And I’m content knowing that they’ve found a steady life and strong community on base, but God, do I miss having them in arm’s reach.

Like many families, we consider our nieces and nephews as “our kids.” And not being able to squeeze my nephews whenever I want can be heart-wrenching. It’s especially difficult during the holiday season. Last year we were blessed to have them here, and their absence this year is heavily felt.

I want to reach out my arms and pull them in, but 8,000 miles is a stretch.

Luckily, we’ve found a way to close the distance.

The other night, my sister sent me a video. Her youngest singing gospel.

Church is foreign to me. We were raised more spiritual than religious. But my sister and her family have found a great community at gospel and my nephew wanted to become an active participant. Through the unsteady video, I had the opportunity to watch him swaying to the music along with the rest of the choir as they belted out songs of praise.

This was a recording. Sent hours after the fact. From 8,000 miles away. But as I sat watching from my couch, I was right there with him. Without an ounce of contact, I was squeezing him. Heart to Heart.

We’ve had these moments before. From my oldest nephew’s cross-country victories, to my little guy’s song and dance routines. We’ve lived and loved together across the distance.

Being away from each other sucks. There’s no doubt about it. But they are there with undeniable reason.  And even though I am craving the embrace, my heart is still full. Proximity is no dictator. Time and distance have little hold over the strength of Love.

When the day comes again that I have the opportunity to pull them in, I’ll squeeze them with ferocity, knowing it’s only a matter of time before I have to let go again.

They may travel the distance, but our hearts will always be close.

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