Christmas was going to be different this year. With Erin back at her mom's house in West Virginia, it would be the first time in her thirteen years that she wouldn't be with me. I know she is well, and that she is with people who love her, but it didn't make it that much easier for me to deal with.
One of the biggest changes was that I would have to get the stuff going back to her into the mail well before Christmas Eve (my usual shopping day). That was way easier to deal with than is the reason that change was necessary. However, I'm a strong man, and other people have had to endure far greater adversity in their lives. Even knowing this, it's difficult at times to not just feel sorry for myself.
I talk to Erin three to four times s week. She's doing well in school. Many of her school friends, though, don't live within walking distance to her. "It gives me more time to spend with Mom," she tells me philosophically. I can hear her growing up. I just can't see her do it.
Perhaps I have an internal longing that wants to hear her say things are not okay, just so that I know she wants to come back. However, she always tells me things are fine. I know I should be happy for that, but it made me think that maybe she would rather stay back there.
Just before Christmas she was telling me that they were going to Virginia to spend Christmas with her stepfather's parents. She was really excited because she would get to see cousins she hasn't seen in one-and-a-half years. There would be built-in playmates. She sounded so happy! This wasn't making me confident she wanted to come home.
I asked her if she was thinking of staying back there.
"Yeah, sure Dad. School gets out on June 6th. I want a ticket for June 7th. I love Mom, but I'm really homesick."
It's okay that Santa didn't deliver the winning Lotto ticket. I'm already a rich man!