Yesterday marked the end of a wonderful two weeks. It was the last chance to spend time with my parents before they headed back to land of the Fazer blue chocolate bar and dark winters to continue their church service for nearly two more years in Helsinki.
Three years ago they left for an assignment at the BYU Jerusalem Center, which lasted over a year and a half. A few months before they were to leave the Holy Land, they were given their next assignment, which they're in the middle of now. By the time they are released from that one, it'll be almost five years of continuous service, with a handful of brief visits scattered here and there.
In those three years they've missed a lot, including family baptisms, ordinations, a grandchild going on a mission, and then those smaller things, like dance recitals and basketball games. On the flip side, I think those of us left at home have felt blessed in some ways by their service.
My youngest was 2 when they left. She'll be 7 when they return for good. (Assuming they don't get sent off to Zaire or something next . . . KNOCK ON WOOD.) This visit was especially great as I've watched my kids reconnect with Grandma and Grandpa, spending time together as if they had never been apart.
Last night we had them over for dinner and to say good-bye, although they weren't able to stay long. Before they left, Dad offered a family prayer—such a blessing to my little family. Then we said our tearful good-byes. I was pretty much a wreck, and my little 8-year-old was beside herself. When the door closed, her body was taken over by wracking sobs. The two of us sat on the couch and cried.
Eventually, after we wiped our eyes and caught our breath, I dove into my stress-reliever of choice, picking up my knitting needles to begin a new project for the very daughter who had grieved with me. The rest of the family cheered up as they watched a musical on DVD downstairs. After thirty minutes or so of knitting, I felt much better and was able to join them in watching the show too.
I'll continue to miss Mom and Dad dreadfully, and it gets worse every year, because the older I am, the more I experience as a mother and a wife, the more clearly I see my parents. The filter I saw them through when I was seven or seventeen wasn't capable of the appreciation and respect of the filter that I have now, as an adult, with children of my own.
I can unequivocally say they are some of the most remarkable people you'll ever find. As their child, I am one of the luckiest people on Earth.
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