“Why?” I moaned. “You’ve been gone over a month. The kids and I miss you. I’m lonely.”
“E, I’m sorry,” Vic said from somewhere in Israel where he was doing research. “I’ll only be away a few days longer than we planned.”
“OK,” I said with a pout in my voice.
“I’ll get to see Paul Brunton in Switzerland. I can layover in Zurich, take a train to Cannes, and help him out for a few days.”
Cannes? The Riviera? I didn’t feel generous on this bitter January day, but Paul Brunton, or PB as we called him, was my teacher’s teacher. PB was elderly and in poor health and had gone to the Riviera to escape cold weather. I didn’t want Vic to miss this chance to be with PB, but we hadn’t spent this much time apart since we first met in 1966.
“PB wears overcoats or stays in bed under blankets. He needs help buying food and starting the furnace.” Vic was selling the idea, but I was already sold. “Besides,” Vic said, “I’m deeply honored to be asked.” This was the main issue. PB was a philosopher, writer, and mystic. We’d studied his books, followed his advice for ten years, and met him in Switzerland with our two-year-old David in 1972. The deep silence surrounding PB permeated me when I was in his presence. Sitting on PB’s lap was David’s first memory.
“Of course, you should see him,” I said fighting back jealousy. Really? The Riviera? PB? Without me?
“I’m sorry,” Vic said. He could read my feelings long distance. “I know it’s hard. Let me talk to the kids a minute.”
I handed the phone to three-year-old Anthony. “Hi, Daddy, you’ve been away a long time.”
I couldn’t hear Vic’s end of the conversation, but he made Anthony laugh.
“I’m going to nursery school, Daddy. It’s cold. Can we read Richard Scarry when you get home? I’ll keep Lowly Worm warm.”
It had been too long. We missed Vic’s silly jokes and playful stories. We missed his laughter and hugs.
“Bye, Daddy. I miss you, too. Bye.”
Anthony handed the phone to his big brother. Tears rolled down David’s cheeks mirroring the salty streams on my face.
“Oh, Daddy,” seven-year-old David said. “I miss you so much.” There was a pause. Vic must have been explaining his absence.
“OK…Daddy…. I know,” David said, gasping his weepy words. “Tell PB… I love… him. I hope… he gets warm soon.”
We hung up before we felt finished. Long distance phone calls were expensive then. Vic’s voice made me miss him more than I had before. I knew I was spoiled by my good marriage. I knew women who raised kids on their own and had little love in their lives, but I wanted Vic to come home.
David and I sat on the edge of my bed. He pushed into me as we wept. I put my arm around him. Anthony stood at the doorway and watched us.
“I miss Daddy, too,” the little guy said before he went to look for his favorite Richard Scarry book. “But I’m not crying about it. He’ll be home soon.”
A few days separation felt like a big deal in 1978. Later I enjoyed being on my own, but I counted on Vic coming home in a few days or weeks. Now, longing is a constant part of my love for Vic. After six years, a little voice in me still cries out, “I miss you. Please come home.” Do you experience this, too? For other stories about my early marriage, see A Call in the Redwoods or Our First Home.