I feel like it shouldn’t be. Like somehow I’m not a good mom because I wasn’t sobbing all the way home. But it was easier.
This morning Tiara packed up her things while I tidied up my office and the girls worked on school assignments. We made a list of errands just like any normal day, left an hour earlier than we needed to, and finished our errands early enough to treat ourselves to a stop at Panera before heading north. The traffic worsened the second we got on I395 and for a moment I worried a bit that we’d get there late, but traffic moved and we just talked – like any other day. I enjoyed the slower pace as we crossed the bridge. It’s surreal to me that I’ll be leaving this place in just over two weeks. I feel internally frantic – like I need more – passing the Jefferson Memorial, I tried to take it in, to commit that particular view to memory. I may not see it exactly the same again. I think Tiara was feeling a bit the same – she won’t be coming back here any time soon. With our move, her “permanent address” changes too and the place she’s known for the last three and a half years won’t be “home” anymore.
Unlike that first goodbye I wasn’t leaving her dorm in a borrowed car and sobbing all the way to Portland. Today we arrived at Reagan National, parked outside terminal B, and took just a moment to say good bye. Elise hopped out to help with bags. I hugged my girl. No longer my little girl, she looked beautiful, calm, and confident. I watched her eyes. They get bluer when they’re teary and for a moment, I thought I saw them moisten, but like her mom, she fights tears and we both held it together. I waited a moment as she walked through the double doors and out of sight, then turned the music a bit louder and drove on home.
May be it’s easier now because she’s ready – because she’s “going home” to that place that she’s happy. Maryland never was “home” and our transient life pushes her more into her own as our place changes. Our new place in Oklahoma will be a place she visits, a place she won’t have a permanent room or memories or history. Oregon is becoming her’s. In some ways it always was. Born there, it’s part of both of us and calls us back. She’s the one who gets to answer the call and return. I’m the one who gets to explore the world a bit longer before settling down in one place (if I ever settle down).
So this is it and although in some ways I’m sad and missing the girl who’s so close to my heart, I can’t help but to smile when I see her excited with anticipation to go back. I’m thrilled that this experiment has worked – after all – we all had so many worries when she moved so far away – just months ago. This was the test, the “how will her health hold up?” Though I never worried about her academics, I wondered if POTS would rear its ugly head and hold her back somehow or bring her to us before the quarter ended. Apparently my worries about her health were unnecessary. She’s strong and capable, responsible and self-reliant. She’s happy in Oregon. She loves her school, friends, and classes. How can I be sad when she’s so happy?
We didn’t quite finish our season of Bones on Netflix, but we can watch them over the phone together. We did get in 21 episodes over the three weeks together and ate more ice cream than I care to admit. We stopped at our favorite coffee shop and laughed at the quirky jokes that only we understand. I enjoyed hearing her sing and cooking along side her. It was good and I’m grateful.
And yes, I miss her. And may be I always will in some ways because she’s a friend too, but friends share joy and successes. She has so many of those ahead of her. It’s going to be fun to watch.