These last few days were Heaven, but right now I’m already missing you. As I told you this morning, our life now is a constant mix of “hellos” and “goodbyes”, with the video calls in between.
I never thought it would hurt so much to see you go away; to have a son living in another country. I was hardly prepared for it, and it hurt deeply. For months I pined for you, thinking of the happy moments when you were still at home and I would hear your joyful voice at the end of the day, “Mom, I’m home”. Now, no more joyful voice, or laughter, or singing. Only silence.
And it has been like this for seven long months. When you came back in April, for ten days, I couldn’t believe myself when I heard your dear voice at home. Everything seemed to come alive, like Spring after a long, dreary Winter – suddenly all was well, things were as they should.
Still, it was short-lived. You had to see so many people, everyone wanted some time with you, so you spent very little time at home with me. Even so, it was wonderful to have you back, to know you were close by, even if for a short while.
Now I went to you. I arrived on a sunny morning, of a warm summer day. I went straight to the hotel you work at, and what an emotion to be there for the first time and look for you – and find you – behind the front desk counter. What emotion when you hugged me! Finally, we were together again.
How good it was to sit down for lunch with you – it was your lunch break – and plan for the next few days. I could see you had been looking forward to my coming; after all I was the last to come, after your dad, your brother, your girlfriend (several times) and a whole string of friends. But it was worth the wait.
That evening we went out to dinner together. It was a warm, wonderful evening and we took the bikes in the underground and then cycled in the city centre. So typical of The Netherlands, and something you love, I know. We sat outside as we tasted spicy Nepalese dishes. And we talked, and you told me about your life, and I could see how happy and fulfilled you are. Even if I – somewhat selfishly – miss you, I cannot help feeling happy to see you like this, and proud of the life you have built for yourself here. I’m proud to see you have your own home, how well organised you are, how things are turning out so well professionally, how much they appreciate you at the hotel…
You had the two following days off, so on Friday morning we set out to The Hague, where we’d be staying that night. Having been to Amsterdam before, I was eager to discover new places. Unfortunately, the hotel belonging to the chain you work for was full, but you found us a good NH, very convenient and comfortable. After all, you are the hotel expert now!
We roamed the city in the afternoon. Against all weather forecasts it was sunny and warm. Wonderful. In the city centre you did some shopping, and we walked for miles to the “Peace Palace” of the UN. Then we caught the tram as you wanted me to see the beach in Scheveningen. Over there it was a lovely late afternoon, and after a stroll on the pier, listening to the shrieks of the seagulls, we sat down at a beach café on the sand for a drink. In the end it felt so good that we decided to have dinner at a restaurant there, and we did a barbecue at our own table. You enjoyed it immensely and again I was glad to see you so happy, to be in the sun and most of all to have you to myself in those precious mother and son moments.
The following morning, we went to Delft, a beautiful city that I called “the little Amsterdam”. Like the bigger city, it has many water channels, but they are narrower, and covered with water lilies, making for a delightful atmosphere. In Delft everything is smaller, the bridges and streets too, and the city is filled with old buildings, churches, all so well preserved, and trees and flowers. Lovely. We could not miss Vermeer’s Centre, myself being a fan of the Delft painter since watching the movie “Girl with a pearl earring”. In the early evening we went back to The Hague where we retrieved our bags at the hotel and took the train back to Amsterdam. That evening I cooked your favourite dish for dinner, and it was like we were back in the old days at home.
On Sunday you worked in the morning, but I joined you at the hotel at 3pm as you were free after that. You took me through the streets of Amsterdam, and I recalled many places I had been to before. We had dinner at a Portuguese restaurant – not very imaginative but still, the cooking was delicious and felt like home.
On Monday you only had the morning free as you began working at 3 pm. We still walked around the city, but it already had a taste of goodbye; my holidays with you were coming to an end.
And so, they came. The last morning, we spent at home; I did some laundry, you booked your plane ticket back to Lisbon for August, and we just enjoyed these last hours together. I thanked you for your welcome and for having me, and you said it had been your pleasure.
After lunch I accompanied you to work, as I still had some time – and I wanted these extra minutes with you. Finally, I had to call an Uber; it was time to go. I held you close and could not help some tears. It was so good to be with you these last six days, but they were over only too soon. I savoured every minute we had together, and it was a privilege to have you to myself almost 24 hours in 24. You said you’ll miss me tonight when you go back home and I’m not there, and I know I’ll miss you every minute until I see you again. But the memories of these last days, the memories we have made together, will remain with me, vivid and strong; they will warm my heart and help drive away the solitude.
Photo by Liam Grant on Pexels