This past weekend, I had the best surprise imaginable. After 38 days of not being able to speak with Josh, he finally dropped anchor in Barbados. And then, 24 hours after speaking for the first time in over a month, he was on a plane home to Montreal.
The preceding week was a crazy one. On Wednesday evening, the wheel came off my car when I was parking. Yes — you read that right. The wheel came off my car. Apparently, when they were reassembling it after rebuilding the transmission a few weeks ago, they didn’t attach the wheel properly. I had noticed from the first time I drove it that it didn’t feel the same. I figured it was because of the new transmission. Then, early last week, I started to hear a weird clicking (more like clanking) noise from the driver’s side wheel. I should get that checked out, I thought. Thank god I didn’t. I have to drive on the highway to get to the mechanic. I suppose we were lucky that it was on the side of a quiet street in my quiet neighbourhood that the wheel detached.
It was the first time, in the nearly three months since Josh and I had been apart, that I lost it. I wanted Josh. I wanted to speak to him, for him to take me in his arms. I wanted to let him take control of the situation, to deal with the fallout, the endless list of items that I had to take care of, decisions that I had to make whether I wanted to or not. But I couldn’t. Fortunately, I had friends coming over for dinner, who actually ended up cooking dinner while I waited for the tow truck guy to laboriously get my car onto the back (it’s evidently much more difficult to get a car on a tow truck when the wheel isn’t attached). But after the kids were in bed, I allowed the wave of shock, exhaustion and self-pity to wash over me. I wept until there were no more tears left. Then I took a few deep breaths and went to sleep.
I had been waiting for Josh to arrive in Barbados for about a week. While he was at sea, he sent occasional emails via satellite phone, which kept me abreast of their movements and status. He had emailed six days earlier saying that they were nearing Barbados, and with every day that passed, my desire, my need to speak to him grew stronger. By the time I finally got his email saying that they had arrived, I was starting to feel crazy. I was struggling a little, yes. But it didn’t even enter my mind that I should ask him to come home. I just needed to hear his voice.
When we spoke, I learned that he was struggling with the skipper. 38 days on a boat with a man who doesn’t understand that respect cannot be demanded, only earned. A man who, instead of admitting his mistakes, yells at his crew. A man who will pick on others about insignificant things, while behaving recklessly himself. Josh — a passive and thoughtful person — told me that he needed to get away from the skipper for fear he might drown him. I know he was joking, but the sentiment was there. He had no contract forcing him to continue on the delivery. It was time for him to come home.
There are no words to express the joy I have felt since his return. There is something ineffable about being with that person. The one who makes everything okay without speaking. I didn’t tell the girls he was coming home early, so at daybreak on Sunday morning, our room was a cacophony of giggles and “daddy!” and a flurry of cuddles and coyness and climbing on papa.
It’s amazing how quickly life returns to normal.
I feel like I’ve been able to take a breath since he got home. I don’t have to rush the girls off to school in the mornings. I don’t have to know exactly what we’re going to eat for supper before I leave for work. I don’t even have to buy the groceries. In the evenings, we hang out, watch TV, simply exist in the same space. I’m not constantly thinking about what I have to to next to keep on top of things. I can just let myself be.
These past months — both our separation and our time in South Africa — have taught me so much about what I want from life. I have seen how capable I am to take charge when I need to, but I also know that I want to share my life with Josh as much as I ever have.
So here’s to taking risks, following dreams, choosing to do things on our own terms. And here’s to being a complete family again. Because being together is what home really is.