Yesterday was an emotional day for me. My son and his family left to move almost 1400 miles away. They won't be back for at least 3 years. The journey is too difficult for me physically, and with 4 young children it would be costly for them to come home, so it will be a long time before I see them again.
My own sadness paled when I started to think about our ancestors who made such journeys - some even further away - in the days before we had the Internet, Skype, Facetime, Facebook and all manner of instant communication.
Suddenly I understood the anguish that my great-grandmother must have felt when 5 of her 6 grown children left England in the first decade of the 20th century to settle in Canada and Australia. I put myself in her place and shuddered to think of how she felt, knowing she would quite likely not see for many years, if at all. She did make two trips to Canada to visit over the space of 30 years but how dreadful it would have been to not see her grandchildren grow up or hear her own children's voices over those years.
And in earlier years, such as when my ancestors left Ireland in 1846 to escape the Famine Years, it must have been heart-breaking to see their children and grandchildren sail off to N. America, knowing they would never see them again.
As we said our goodbyes yesterday, we were all dry-eyed until my 10 year old grandson hugged me, would not let go, and began to sob. I felt my heart breaking and I started crying too. My daughter-in-law wiped away tears and we all had one last hug. My grandchildren's little hands waved out the car window as they drove down our driveway.
I take comfort in knowing that they are only a moment away by phone or the internet. I am also happy for them as they begin a new adventure. But my heart goes out to my long-dead ancestors who must have grieved for years for their children so far from home.