Sometimes it seems it would be better not to visit. Not because we have a miserable time, but just the opposite. When I get back in my car and drive away--away from all that love--it hurts. Literally, in my chest, it aches. I see on my mom's face that I'm breaking her heart and I see my Dad reflected in the rear view mirror offering her his shoulder for comfort but I know he feels it too, although he's more stoic about it. "Stiff upper lip" isn't a meaningless idiom, that's for sure. Every visit--here or there--we all know how it will end. We will say goodbye. Someone will drive away and someone will stay put. We all do our best to be brave about it, adult about it, sensible about it. But we all feel the ache in our hearts.
There is a stretchable string attached between my heart and theirs. Not a rubber band, that's too tense, too quick, too circular, too strangling when tight. No, this really is just a string that stretches for as far as we need. I feel it start to stretch as I drive away. It gets thinner and thinner as I pass through Albany and finally into Vermont. It's so thin by the time I pull into my driveway that I can almost forget it's strength. But it never breaks, it just pulls us gently back together when it's been stretched too thin for too long.