Fly Away, Baby, Fly Fly Away…

The time came and went…the 4:00 a.m. alarm went off, despite our praying that something would cause the alarm to be turned off or not loud enough, or magically turned to the wrong time, so that our son wouldn’t wake up and he would miss his flight to Minnesota. There was a lot of anxiety amongst all five of us leading up to Monday, September 9th, when his flight, scheduled to take-off at 6:15 a.m. from Sacramento Metropolitan Airport, was, to my husband’s delay, right on time… not delayed by weather or some other freak natural disaster…nor did our son’s alarm clock magically malfunction, causing his alarm to not wake up its owner, thereby causing said alarm clock owner to be late to the airport, missing his flight.

Everything went as planned, and we arrived at the airport an hour before the scheduled flight. . We all said our goodbyes, he was anxious, jittery–lemme be honest–he was a nervous flippin’ wreck. Our goodbyes were rushed through before he headed to check-in his baggage, asking his Mama (yep, cue me) what he was to do, he had never flown alone after all. We guided him toward the makeshift check-in line and he dragged (struggling) his suitcase to the front. Southwest had him checked-in and pointed toward the security checkpoint five minutes later. He came back again to hug us, his Dad handed him $100 cash and then, upon me telling his Dad that we should have him pay the bellhop a tip, “so he knows from here on out he’s supposed to do that”, I said– a five-dollar bill, instructing him to go back to the man who had just checked him in, the bellhop he told him, and to thank him for his service; my son was told he is to do that whenever he gets help at the airport, you always tip, his Dad told him. He shook his head nervously but assuredly. Then I glanced back at the truck, where his little brother and sister sat in the car crying their eyes out….

I went and whispered in his ear, “please go give your brother and sister another kiss and hug…they are very upset”. Everyone had held it together up to this point. As soon as he walked back to the truck, we all started sobbing openly, except his Dad, who was fighting the tears back hard and looking pretty queasy. When he went back and hugged them again, he told them not to cry and promised he would be talking to them all the time. What a difficult thing for a nine year-old and a thirteen year-old to understand; why is he leaving his family? The worst part of it for them, is that the month before he left, he had treated them better and with more love and adoration than he ever had before, which made them regret even more deeply that he was leaving us. The tears continued until well after we pulled away from the terminal.

We hadn’t driven a mile, and his Dad pulled over and vomited his guts out. I had never seen him do that from nerves and being upset. The kids were dead silent for about ten minutes. Then big sis began to ask things like, “why did he have to leave us?” and “when do  you think he will be home to visit Mommy?” To which I could only answer, that he needed to be a grown-up and break away from his Mom and Dad and try to figure things out for himself; I assured them he would home to visit by Christmas, no doubt. If not sooner.

It’s been surreal, my first-born child leaving the nest. There is nothing harder in this world about your children growing up than the first-born daughter or son moving away, especially if it’s to another state, and not a neighboring state. The first couple of days I was extraordinarily sad and empty-feeling, but I have tried to let those thoughts go the last few days and just concentrate on my other two.

It’s crazy, only have two children to worry about raising now. It feels unnatural, still–we are supposed to be raising three children, not two. It’s like something happened to one; I have to remind myself that he just moved away. He didn’t die, sheesh. It still stinks having one less child in the home, but I know he needs to grow up, start his life, and become the man he was meant to be. I’m very proud of my oldest son and just hope he knows he always has a home to come to if things are too rough out there….

Love you baby….

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