Same Planet

By Vera Birdsong-Poske

I hear her voice before her grainy image appears. My heart takes its obligatory spot in my throat, and a sense of relief prevails. Sierra’s face is before me. Our sweet daughter looks tired. She is so far away. We chat online about good news and bad news. The pitch of her voice heightens as she tells me about her new students. She teaches kids in Azerbaijan to speak English. I wrap both hands around a large coffee mug and listen to each spoken word. Her lips are dry. She has a cute, short new haircut. Thank you, god of Skype.

Sierra began researching the Peace Corps while in high school. She explored the information she read on the internet and talked it over with her friends and family. “Don’t let fear hold you back.” Her Dad’s words echoed. “Stay focused on what you can control.” “You are intelligent, capable, and lovable.” Sierra and I discussed important topics before she left the country in September of 2009.

“What happens if someone dies? Do you want to know?” I asked.

“Yes, Mom, tell me everything. It helps me feel connected.”

Azerbaijan is almost 8,000 miles from home. She recently completed twenty months of service, with seven months remaining. “I promise I’ll be home by Christmas 2011,” she assured me on our recent Skype session.

“Same planet, Mom. Don’t worry.” Our son, Connor, used comforting words when he called to say he took a job as a software engineer in San Diego, California. Silent tears fell as he shared the news.

My heart leaped into my throat. “That’s fantastic!” I lied.

Connor moved across the country last summer.

With his laptop positioned at the perfect angle, we chat face to face, electronically. He cooks breakfast while I am propped at eye level on his kitchen counter. “Mom, San Diego is amazing. There’s so much to do here!” I love his excitement and hide any disappointment obvious on my image.

I smile and ask him for details. “What do you love about it, honey?” He tells me about the restaurants in the area and the great selection of healthy food. He’s joined a soccer team and loves running on the beach. He’s hiking with new friends from his office. He’s dating. That heavy feeling in my chest lifts.

Connor flips the omelet with confidence. I have seen his new apartment, but only electronically. He takes the laptop over to the window so I can share the view. I notice new facial hair as the camera scans his face. He’s more mature looking than our last visit in person.

After recent Skype sessions with both children, it occurred to me; “this is as good as it gets.” With adult children living so far away, we stay in touch using various technologies, including email, instant message, Facebook, Google voice, texting, Skype, the old fashioned cell phone and land line. We even exchange hand-written letters and packages.

I’m grateful for modern technology that allows me to stay connected to my children. Still, I yearn for what is absent. A subtle tug at my heartstrings remains as I see their sweet faces on the computer monitor. I am lucky to live in an age where I can talk to the kids no matter where they are in the world. Physical proximity doesn’t determine the closeness of a family. “Raising courageous, independent kids is sort of like shooting yourself in the foot!” a friend recently said. That explains the feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Isn’t it our goal when we have children to raise them in the direction of their individual paths? Isn’t independence synonymous with success? Aren’t roots and wings the two gifts we give our children, like the saying goes?

“See you next time.”

“Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Our Skype session ends and Connor’s image disappears as he closes his laptop.

Same planet, I tell myself.

About this writer

  • Vera Birdsong-Poske Vera Birdsong-Poske, the youngest of four children, grew up in Virginia, and now lives in a small, coastal Florida town. Vera has been published in the Ponte Vedra Recorder and Net Notes Magazine.

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6 Responses to “Same Planet”

  1. art snow says:

    you have such a great way with words thank you for sharing

    • Joanne Culligan Belford says:

      Finally found you through this beautiful article. So nice to hear of Sierrra and Connors life. Miss u. please get in touch

  2. Margo Duncan says:

    You have the ability to make the reader feel as though we are right there with you in your stories. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Mike Valentine says:

    All the horses, rooster, dog and the pigs miss you… so do I.

  4. Beth Dyer says:

    Thank you for words that warm my heart and remind me of what is really important.

  5. Amy Quincy says:

    Beautifully written. And so true in this technological age!

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