Though only about two weeks remain until summer, this past weekend I went home. My grandparents from the Netherlands, whom I haven’t seen in about four years, came to visit and meet their two great-granddaughters who were born in December and February.
I was ecstatic to see them. They looked exactly the same as I remembered, and even though my grandfather struggles to hear and understand what’s going on at all times, I couldn’t wait to spend time with them.
Because for me, every second I’ve ever gotten to spend with my grandparents — whom I call Oma and Opa, the Dutch words for grandma and grandpa, respectively — was cherished.
I’m not trying to say people who see their grandparents more often than I do don’t appreciate their grandparents. But when I was growing up, I saw my grandparents maybe once a year up through middle school, when they stopped making the annual trip. I saw my grandparents so infrequently that when I was really little, it always took me a few hours to warm up to them, because every time felt like meeting complete strangers.
Then, once their visits ceased, there was just one visit I made to the Netherlands the summer before my senior year of high school. In the past seven years, I’ve seen my grandparents for a total of just about 16 days.
And this weekend was most likely the last time I’ll ever see them.
As I hugged Oma goodbye and did the three-cheek-kisses departure, she looked at me and said, “See you …” She didn’t really complete the sentence, because she didn’t know what to say.
In that second, I realized I was hugging my grandmother for most likely the last time, even though she’s perfectly healthy. In their early 80s, Oma and Opa aren’t up to regular trips to the U.S., and my family can hardly afford regular trips across the pond. So though my grandparents are going off to live several more healthy years, I already had to say goodbye.
As I pulled out of the driveway and Oma waved goodbye, I felt a knot in my throat. I regretted every time they visited and I shyly hid for the first hour or so. I regretted every time I started an email and never sent it. I regretted every phone call I didn’t make, and I regretted having to leave so early Sunday morning.
But as I’ve fretted the last few days about how I might never see Oma and Opa again, I suddenly realized that just because I won’t be seeing them doesn’t mean they’re out of my life. Yeah, I know, it’s a dumb realization and a conclusion you probably jumped to three paragraphs ago. I have email, I have phone calls and I even have Facebook (yes, my grandfather has a Facebook and it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen and you wish your grandfather was as cool as mine).
It might be cliché to say that I encourage you to make the most of your time with loved ones, but as I’m still reeling from one set of goodbyes and preparing to say goodbye to my departing senior friends, I’m realizing the clichés are true, so who cares if it’s cliché?
I’m sad I might not see my grandparents again, but I can still take advantage of the time I have left with them, and that’s exactly what I aim to do. Cherish your time with loved ones, and don’t take for granted any second of it.
Nicolien Buholzer is a junior studying journalism and the culture editor for The Post. Email her at email@example.com