Life is funny. I grew up in a family and couldn't wait until I could go out on my own. That day finally arrived and as I drove away from the farm to college, I was overwhelmed at the sense of loneliness that took hold of me. That quickly faded as I made friend and adapted to my new environment. Soon, I was looking at the end of college and starting my career. I moved to a new town where I didn't know anyone and again that sense of loneliness came back. Once again it was fleeting as I met new friends and adapted. As the years went by and my friends started getting married and moving away, that loneliness started to creep back but this time, change came to me in the form of a woman who would several years later become Mrs. Abbey. We've been married for five years and I guess we've adapted because when she and Little Abbey left for a month long vacation in the Philippines and I couldn't join them, that old familiar feeling of loneliness came crashing back.
At first it was the big things that made the most difference; coming home to an empty house or in the evening, coming home to a dark house. Gradually lesser things started to make a difference like not being able to come home after a tough day at work and tell my wife all about it. Eventually seemingly trivial things like waking up in the middle of the night and trying to picture Little Abbey's face in my mind and not being able to get a clear enough image. I would have to go downstairs where one of the most recent pictures hangs on the refrigerator and reassure myself that I still remembered every single detail about it.
Fortunately I am not going to have to adapt to this new feeling of loneliness for as I write these paragraphs, I'm also monitoring flights as my wife and daughter landed in Hong Kong and got on another plane bound for Chicago. I won't be able to see if their plane from Chicago departs on time for the flight to the closest airport to home is quicker than I can drive it. The loneliness has already changed to an intense feeling of anticipation where time seems to crawl by a slow inch at a time. I keep trying to imagine how I am going to feel in another twenty hours when I see them for the first time in a month. I know that I'm underestimating my emotions. Just the same, I can't wait.