Tough Goodbyes

Greg McNeil, The Cape Breton Post
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A Week That Changed Our World Project

Each time Ryan Marman heads west, a little piece of him dies inside as he's forced to say goodbye to friends and family, including his nine-month-old son.

Ryan Marman hugs his nine-month-old son Blake prior to boarding a charter bound for Alberta.

That young boy’s smile.

It lights up nine-month-old Blake as he’s lost in the certain embrace of his dad, Ryan Marman.

Ryan is smiling too — though he’s dying a bit inside.

The hug they share at Sydney airport is their last for two weeks.

When you have a child so young, hours — let alone days or weeks — can be an eternity.

“This is killing me right now," says Ryan, among 30 Cape Breton workers flying to Alberta.

Ryan, 29, has been working in Alberta for eight years — part of this century’s remarkable commutes westward.

His trade is instrumentation. A unique talent, but a job in that field is rare at home.

And so he finds himself at this airport every two weeks — a constantly interrupted parenthood and presence — saying goodbye after two weeks at home.

Once it was tough — but it's now excruciating.

"I'd be lost without the dozens of videos a day I get," Ryan explains.

That technology has made dad's face a daily sight to his son, even when he is so far away.

"It's going to get to the stage where it'll be hard on him seeing me leave,” Ryan knows. “We'll face that day when it comes."

But there will be more smiles and hugs next time they see each other at this airport — two weeks worth.

And as a father breaks away — all for the sake of a loved son and cherished family and shared future — the cycle of pause and play repeats over and over again.

Click here to see more from A Week That Changed Our World’s Wednesday collection.

Geographic location: Alberta, Sydney, Cape Breton

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