On Thursday morning Jimmy and I brought our youngest daughter to the airport, she was headed off to Orlando to play lacrosse. Although she had traveled alone a number of times to compete, this time felt different. I could not help but feel aware of things to come, it was as if the future — our life without a child at home — hung in the cool morning air before us.
We were too busy offering Chandler help with her bags, help she no longer needed, to realize we were at the wrong end of the terminal. She shouldered her backpack, hugged her dad, then turned to walk away. And in that split second, I turned back to see my husband, this man who I have shared countless experiences with, tuck his love for his daughter against his heart, then climb back into the truck.
I matched her stride and we entered the terminal.
It didn’t take us long to see we were not in the right spot — noses practically against the map — we tried to figure out where we needed to be. A friendly voice asked us if we needed help. We turned to see an older gentleman in a golf cart. At the mention of American Airlines, he instructed us to hop aboard his cart where seconds later we laughed as he zipped us past other travelers, wind in our hair.
Once she was checked-in, boarding pass in her hand, we headed to her gate security line, it was my turn to say goodbye.
Now, in the quiet that is our home this morning, I can still see her — sports bag strapped to her back, duffel slung over her shoulder — without a backward glance, making her way through security.
As if to beat my thoughts back this morning, I surveyed her now empty room. Bed made. Clothes put away. What is often temporary chaos, gone, ordered, neat. And I imagine her as she packed taking time to leave her room clean so it would be a beacon for her return. My eyes scanned her wall-sized bulletin board, a memory catcher we both created together, a repository of captured moments.
For a moment I sat at the edge of her bed and stared.
There, in the countless photos, I saw the arc that has been my daughter’s life thus far — friends, family, events, games — smile upon smile all stared back at me. That wall, rich with memories, reminded me that in every captured moment lies the gold.
For in the spaces we do our living, love fills us. In all the moments, hard and easy, confidence is born. In all her steps, her values have grown, blossomed, solidified.
And as I stood to leave my eyes landed on a pillow I gave her years ago in Friday Harbor, Washington one summer when we were camping on out boat — Love You More — the three words we have said to each in place of the words, good-night.
Love you More…
It is in the safety that we have created, here in this near empty house, that each of our children has grown. And though the things to come hang out there in the future, on Sunday my daughter will once again return home.
Cathy Chester says
You always grab my heart for the few minutes I’m here on your blog. Your gorgeous words, again, bring me west to you and your house and that wall filled with love. How blessed you are to be wrapped up in that. How blessed I am to again visit with you.
Your daughter is blessed as well…
Thank you Cathy… xoxo
Carol Cassara says
A lovely remembrance of things past and a look toward things yet to come.
Thank you Carol.
Beautiful! You’ve captured this feeling so well. A good reminder to cherish each moment she’s with you, still at home.
Thank you so much Risa. Yes, trying to remember to be in the now…it sure goes fast.
Lisa at GrandmasBriefs says
Warm and touching, Elin. It’s these precious short-term separations that prepare us for the long-term ones. Thankfully the nest doesn’t empty cold-turkey style, for our hearts would never mend.
Isn’t that the truth! One kid at a time…unless you have triplets like one of my good friends, oh boy, that’s going to be tough. Thanks Lisa!
Lois Alter Mark says
Okay, do you have to make me cry every time?! It’s so bittersweet when our kids leave the nest without a glance back. Roots and wings, my friend. Roots and wings. xo
Yes. Love that. Roots and wings. xo (and sorry about the tears…)
Doreen McGettigan says
You are quickly becoming my favorite writer. You brought me right back to a similar moment in my youngest daughters room. An equally sad and happy memory.
Oh my goodness, thank you so much Doreen, such a lovely thing to say, thank you. They are equal…I so agree.
Your post brought me back to that place too…where you say Love you More and it’s wonderful and sad at the same time. I love when my kids come back home…I always feel it’s where they belong…but I know I had to let go. Great post…so well said.
Thank you Carolann. Yes… there is that letting go. My Mom always said, “hold close with open hands.” seems about right.
Roz Warren says
Lovely and so evocative. It hurts to let go, but we have to.
Thanks Roz. And yes…we sure do.
Beautiful. Orlando my hometown. Well, actually I grew up in Winter Park (a mile from the city limits of Orlando.) I know she will have a wonderful trip. Because though she is with her teammates, she is on her own. It happens. To all of us. 🙂
She is having a great trip! And you are so right! Thanks Jamie.
Karen D. Austin says
My kids are 13 and 16, so they haven’t launched yet. I miss them when they go to camp for a week. You are giving me a good preview on how to let go while also cherishing the time we had together. Scary and exciting times ahead. Hugs to you and all my best to your daughter on her many adventures.
Thank you Karen. A friend once told me we have the first 18 years to raise our kids and the rest of our life to be friends. I love that. It’s been true of our oldest (27) and our middle guy is in his freshman year in college…then there’s our youngest, our daughter. The good news is as we see them embrace their next steps it makes it easy to swap sorrow for happiness over their joy.