First conversation: Future daughter: "I need to move to Omaha because I want to be near him while he's in grad school."
Dad: "But is it not true that absence makes the heart grow fonder?"
Future daughter: "Brian!"
Daughter: "But we need to get married now because he'll be going to Spain for his spring semester and I don't want to be away from him all that time!"
Dad: "But have you not heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder?"
It is true that my husband has twice reminded his girls that a possible absence may make their fabulous relationships even better! This was not a popular idea for these young-and-in-love girls because they could not imagine that time away from their beloveds could do anything but bring pain and sadness.
But, from a very practical position, doesn't it just seem logical that if you love someone you will only increase the longing for each other by putting some space between the two of you for a short time? Might you imagine that in unavailability, time might reveal opportunities for you to be your own person, an interval to have adventures that will enhance the relationship? Could it be possible that experiences apart from one another might improve the relationship by offering a new perspective?
Our girls only expressed frustration at such an old-fashioned suggestion.
This past month, their dear practical dad had the opportunity to try out his theory. After being invited to join his brother on a trip to Patagonia, a wilderness area in southern South America, he decided to accept.
On February 6th Brian boarded a United Airlines airplane and flew out of the Cedar Rapids airport. With stops in Chicago and Huston, he landed in Santiago, Chile at least eighteen hours later and met up with his brother. The next four days found them traveling by pick-up truck and ferry down the western coast of Chile. With hours of fishing, exploring, sitting in rafts and camping on sandy beaches, this turned into an adventure of a lifetime.
What happened during those weeks is a story for another time... On March 3rd, Brian, once again, walked through the Cedar Rapids airport, this time - on his way home.
We are still working out all the details of his trip, but I think his little test (Does absence make the heart grow fonder?) proved to be true for us. Brian and I missed each other tremendously and found a renewed appreciation for each other's presence, hugs, warmth, companionship and voice while being apart for almost four weeks. Quietly affirming words were expressed that often get left unsaid. With thirty-five years of knowing and loving each other, being apart for so long left us wishing the other was near.
I found that I need Brian's practical voice. After getting worked up about something, I find his point of view to be calm and steady. In contrast, I can get hyper-focused on details and need a way out. I have cold feet. He warms me up! I get weird when left alone. He helps me think more clearly. I get anxious about stuff, he helps me reason things out and calms me down. Standing next to Brian during worship on Sunday mornings assures me of our common faith and trust in God. I missed him being there!
I, on the other hand, offer Brian a reason to take a shower and to wash his clothes. I push him to rest and my calming voice offers clarity. My hugs boost and affirm him in ways that you just don't find in the dangerous wilderness with a group of five men. When everyone else was speaking Spanish my admiration and conversation would have encouraged him. After breakfast we weren't together to read our Bible and pray.
Yes, indeed. We have found that whoever first penned that great little phrase, certainly knew what he or she was writing. It happened in our hearts. We are very happy to be together again.
So, dear daughters, next time, you might want to stop and listen when your dad says something practical, although unpopular. He just might end up being right.