No one could have prepared me for how difficult it would be. I had no way to know how much my heart would ache.
A little over a week ago, my oldest daughter left for Russia. She will spend four months there, teaching English to young children. And I miss her so much.
I am not generally an emotional person. I have even been accused of being Vulcan because I don't get emotional when people think I should.
Because of this, I thought I'd be okay. I knew I would worry and I would miss her. I had no idea I'd be a basket case.
She's been planning this trip for over a year. She's worked so hard to save the money and get everything done. She's been so grown up in handling the details.
But she's still my baby. I don't care if she's twenty years old; she will always be my baby.
The days leading up to her leaving are still kind of a blur. I was very busy with other things and other children. That was a blessing. Because every time I had a minute to think about it my heart would seize up with fear. And pain. And loss.
I thought it would get better after I knew she'd arrived safely. And part of it did. But there is so much more that still hurts.
Please don't misunderstand. I am so thrilled that she gets to have this opportunity. I know it is good for her. I know it will help her to become an independent adult who will flourish on her own. And I want that for her.
But my heart hurts. And I am scared.
I worry that something will happen and she will need help and I won't be there to fix it. I worry that she will be sad and scared. I worry that she will get hurt. And I worry that she will get a taste for adventure and make things like this a regular part of her future.
She needs to choose her own path. She is so wise and chooses well. I have to trust that. But I will admit, I would be happier if she chose to live down the street for the rest of her life.
There was a time at the airport when we had to go our separate ways. She entered the cattle lines waiting to go through security (after I finally quit hugging her). We waited and watched. She would move out of our vision and then, as the line progressed, back into it. Around and around. And each time she would look to find us and wave with a big smile on her face. And we would wave back, letting her know we were still there. Still watching out for her.
And I thought back to years ago, when she was on the carousel. She would move out of our sight for a while. Then when she came back she would wave and we would wave. Each time she went around we would reconnect, knowing it would be over soon and we would be back together again.
But this time, when the round and round ended, she didn't come back to us. She flew away. To the other side of the world. And my heart breaks missing her.
I trust her. And I trust that God is watching over her. But I want her back.
So, fly, baby bird. Just remember where the nest is.