Anticipating the arrival of my mama, I spent most of September digging through and cleaning out areas of the house that often get overlooked. Drawers get full of stuff we don't need to keep, in-between season clothes get put in random places and the cabinets needed a thorough cleaning after our month+ long battle to rid ourselves of an unwelcome resident mouse (we won). It feels good to get things back to ground zero occasionally. I feel like much of my day is spent shuffling junk from one place to another, namely toys. So one Saturday while my neighbor took Kyle and Ellee for a walk, Jono and I kicked into high gear cleaning out and boxing up half the toys just to reduce the volume of stuff around the house. That felt way better than I expected.
Due to some passport complications, Mom's trip was bumped back a week longer than we had planned leaving us up here in no-grocery-land to fend for ourselves on local food. My attempts at making tasty meals out of basic ingredients were well accepted, thankfully. By the time grocery shopping came the second week of October, we were out of just about everything. We lived.
On October 9th we picked up Lollee bright and early at the Durban airport. I was so excited. Kyle was so excited! Jono was so excited and Ellee was so clueless. We had lots of fun catching up and getting happies she'd brought along from friends and family back home while we hung out in Durban for the rest of that morning. It felt surreal to have her here. We spent a night in Pietermaritzburg and then drove up to Mokhotlong on Friday after buying one of everything in the grocery store.
During our two weeks together in Mokhotlong, Mom and I embroidered a ton of stockings, watched more murder mysteries than I'm comfortable with admitting to, cooked lots of yummy meals and had late-night sleep overs. We walked to town for Basotho "donuts", fed our neighbors' chickens, and played Memory with Kyle. Ellee loved the attention from Lollee and decided she'd attempt walking (finally!) to impress her. We took picnics to the river and let the kids splash in the water. Thanks to an internet fluke in our favor, we were able to download a bunch of seasons of our favorite TV show, The Amazing Race, and we enjoyed watching the episodes during mealtimes. Mom picked the first place winner for both seasons and now we owe her a gift card to a restaurant. We gave each other pedicures, watched the Hobbit special features, fixed my vacuum so it works great now, and cleaned the house from top to bottom with it.
To wrap it up, we spent four nights in Durban on the coast before she flew back out yesterday. We ate at some of our favorite restaurants, shopped till we dropped - or at least until our feet ached - and walked down to see the ocean despite the intense wind. For breakfast we cooked bacon and eggs and toast in our room and fed the monkeys bananas through the windows. One monkey nearly got in the room through the window and I just about had a heart attack. Then I closed the windows completely and had a good laugh. It was actually sort of funny to be on the glassed-in side of a zoo. There were at least ten monkeys outside our window looking in at us eating our breakfast. One mama monkey had a half-asleep baby clinging to her fur on her belly while she jumped and swung from trees and rooftops. It was incredible how tightly that baby monkey had to have been holding on and yet was still able to sleep! I tried to make sure she got food because I know what kind of slim pickings mamas get sometimes.
Time is such a funny thing. The days were dragging as we waited for Mom to come, but they went by so fast while she was here. Three weeks isn't nearly long enough to pack in enough fun to last half a year or more. She could be here for three months and it wouldn't be enough. As much as I tried to soak in every moment, I still feel like it flew by. And as much as we did, there was still so much more that I had wanted to do but we didn't get the time.
I hate saying goodbye. It physically hurts. Every time I try to psych myself up and say I'm just gonna be tough and get through it. And every time I just want to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out. Three weeks ago, I was so excited to go to the airport and pick her up. Yesterday I hated the airport for having to take her away. Coming back to the house is so hard because it feels empty and lonely. I can barely look in her room without tearing up. Thankfully I know this feeling passes. When she and Lacy left last year, I was unprepared for how hard I would grieve. This time I knew it was going to stink and that we would just have to get through it. It's hard not knowing when we'll see each other again and knowing that there isn't really any chance of an unexpected visit. I know it'll be a long time so I know it stinks. And I know it hurts.