Wednesday, 29 May 2013
You'd think I would be used to saying goodbye by now - after all, it's nearly ten years since my eldest left home. But when I waved our youngest off to the US yesterday morning I still felt the same old painful pang. That moment of parting, as your child walks away from you and into his or her new life, always makes me sad. There's something specially disconcerting about knowing that the person who used to be your baby is hurtling thousands of miles across the globe. It just feels wrong to be so disconnected, so helpless if they need you.
But at least the strange limbo of the past 24 hours before parting is over - that's another thing I still struggle with. It's so hard to settle when you're trying to make the most of someone's company yet missing them already, trying not to get tetchy or nag about the lack of plans; trying not to sound like my own mother, basically.
When it comes to saying goodbye one lesson I have learnt is not to eek out the agony by hanging around in the airport and waiting for the final glimpse of that precious back disappearing through security. Instead, at 5.30 am we hugged in the drizzling rain outside the car and drove away. But as we let ourselves in to the silent house the phone was already ringing. She'd lost her wallet and couldn't get on the plane without it. So by 6.30 am we were back at the airport saying goodbye all over again. It was probably easier the second time round.....
In so many ways life has become oddly fuller since our nest emptied, but there will always be moments of sadness and nostalgia. These days, thankfully, they are moments rather than days or even weeks. Of course I felt sad going home to the dregs of comfortable chaos in my daughter's bedroom, with the bedside light still burning. I admit I couldn't bear to switch it off for a while, and I even put on her old jumper, with that lovely smell of cigarettes and Stella. And every time a plane flew over I thought about her arriving in Chicago with nowhere to stay. But by the time her text came saying 'Made it!' I was already moving back into my own new life.