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.