I find it tough to say goodbye, especially to loved ones. I took my second oldest son to the airport this morning. As a guy, I was all focused in on the task at hand. Wake him up (he was out nearly all night), find out the weight on his two large bags to check, and get to the airport in time to hopefully get his seat assignment changed. I didn’t know what to expect with traffic – it has been raining all morning – so I wanted to get out the door. About 2/3 of the way there, I received a call from my wife, “where are you?!?” “On the way to the airport”, I replied wondering why would she ask me such a question when she already knew where we were going. Then she dropped the bomb on me – “Why didn’t you wake me up? I didn’t get to say ‘goodbye’ to my son!” She had been awake at least until 3 a.m. and I was quiet moving around the bedroom so I would not wake her so she could sleep. It simply never dawned on me how important it was for her to say ‘goodbye’ – I guess I must have incorrectly thought that they had said goodbyes the night before. I felt a little defensive at first, but after thinking about it for a little while, I realized that I had messed up not giving her the chance to give him a hug and kiss and those little encouraging words a mom shares with her son. I felt very badly, but the damage was already done and we were committed to get through the airport. I felt like a heel!
That brings me back to my own feelings of temporary loss with the absence of my son. I know he will do well – he is quite self-sufficient in spite of my efforts. But I can’t help feeling an ache in my heart with him gone. As a father, I like to feel like all my “ducks” are in a row and everyone is safe, happy, and productive. When I feel like I am losing control, I experience a flinch of panic and my father-defenses kick in. The transition of seeing your children move into adulthood is unsettling at best and for those like me, it can be downright nerve racking. I love both of my adult sons and I am quite proud of both of them. I know they haven’t “arrived” and I often think back to my own life in my late teens and early twenties and I am so glad that my young men are doing so much better that I did. I also keep returning to the truth that their heavenly Father is in control of their lives and the events that they are living through and He loves them infinitely more than I am capable of.
It still brings me back to the plain fact that goodbyes are hard and leave us feeling very vulnerable and sober. To this I simply cry:
“Ben, we are grateful for you and will miss you every day that you are away at school. I thank the Lord that He has you in His grip and He goes before every step you take. Know that you are in our hearts and in our prayers all of the time! Love, Papa”