I was fifty-nine years younger on this day in 1960… my age still measured in single digits. This had been “The Day” where I learnt… first hand… how separation anxiety can hit home… really hard.
The setting involved the early a.m. Greyhound bus terminal, when / where life’s unsmiling, emotionally charged events just kept on unraveling exponentially. With my dad and three-years-older sister standing at my side, with mom seated behind the bus’s thick, tinted safety-glass pane… we traded off our countless good-bye waves and blown kisses. About to embark on her 1,287km / 800mi road trip, by journey’s end, mom would be tending to a somber family matter.
Oh, how I had wished we all could’ve traveled as a family, but, due to my dad’s low-paying public school teacher job, he could not afford the three extra bus tickets… even with two of them being sold at the kiddie, half-fare rate.
With my mind zoning out to the night before… I began replaying the scene where we had just returned from our routine, weekly grocery shopping trip… bags in hand. While dad was unlocking the backdoor, we could already hear our hardwired, landline telephone ringing “off the hook”. Mom rushed in, ahead of us, to field what turned out to be a long-distance call.
In that pre-direct-dial / operator assisted era (“eons” before super-glued to our ears cell phones had become commonplace) such a call was rare, seldom just for the fun of it and (more often than not) the harbinger of bad news.
In this instance, mom’s sister spoke of what had started out as an idyllic, daylong, fun family outing spent at their lakefront cottage… of how everything had gone into panic mode when my grandma had gone M.I.A…. of how their frantic scouring of the woods had reached the end upon discovering her lifeless body laying amidst the blueberry patch, which she’d been harvesting.
With the bus’s diesel engine now roaring to life, the driver shifted into gear and pulled out from the station. The three of us moved outside to watch until mom’s bus, seemingly, vanished into thin air. It was now time for dad to drive us back home… a mere 12.87km / 8mi. Once inside the family car, my tears were now free to stream down my no longer “brave” public face.
Truth be told… I wasn’t even crying that much over the death of my grandma. Having only “met her” as a newborn, I guess you could say that I never really knew her at all.
Well… all the way home and for the entire afternoon leading up to suppertime, no matter how many times my dad and sister reassured me that mom would be back home in a couple of weeks, I was fully convinced that I’d never see her again.
And even though my father and sibling did, eventually, prove me wrong… nonetheless… that long ago separation anxiety still haunts me and can still evoke welled up tears.
If only I could successfully imprint my experience within the alleged mind of my homeland’s alleged prez. Might he then learn… second hand… perhaps for the first time ever in his life… how separation anxiety can hit home really hard? Might he then be able to separate the word “Zero” from his Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy? Might he then feel empathy… my total empathy… for the U.S. / Mexican border crossing / asylum seeking families who he’s been so ruthlessly and callously abusing for political gain?