J Walking

Landed last night around 8:30, was on the phone with Kim by 8:30:01, out of customs (where no cell phone usage is allowed) by 9ish, in a car moments later, on phone with Laura and Rachel a nanosecond later.
Though we don’t share the same house (or the same city), we all felt the absence greatly. No nightly calls, no post-school calls, no visits, so it was a homecoming of sorts – a virtual one, a really nice one. I had thought about bringing Laura (12 only in human years) but it just didn’t work out. That was, considering all that happened, a good thing. Rachel (10) had zero interest in going. But last night we all agreed a trip there was a necessity.
Rolled into the house around 10pm. Was hugging Kim by 10:00:01. Was up ‘accidentally’ waking munchkin #1 (or, as some Ugandan children said, “mun-chicken”) by 10:03:09 (I keep precise time). Munchicken #1 looked up at me from her crib and said, quietly, sleepily, happily, “Daddy’s back.” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. “Cuddle Daddy, let’s cuddle Daddy, just for a little minute.” I held her and held her and held her, arms encasing her, her head on shoulder. I told her about the pterodactyls and she said I was “curious” because I had been Africa… just like Curious George… and that I had seen, “one, two, three, four, five giraffes.”
Kim let me know if I went in to see mun-chicken #2 and woke him up I would be… well… I didn’t go in.
Sleep soon thereafter. This morning, 5:30 am, Kim and I were talking. Quietly. 5:30am talking. She said the trip was so weird because of how intense it was on my end and how far apart we were. She said for the first time ever it seemed like I didn’t miss her.
I started to say that that wasn’t true, that I did miss her when, instead, uncontrollable tears overwhelmed. There are visual dominoes in my head. I pick one moment, one scene, one picture and then it triggers countless others and though many are happy, there is so much pain and suffering in others. And at that moment they were all there – all alive, all real, all happening simultaneously and it was too much. All the coping mechanisms I’d utilized all week long were obliterated. I tried burying my head in Kim’s shoulder. But my head is too big.
We had splashdown.

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