the promise

We walked through the sleepy terminal in somberly fitted steps full of melancholy. She was going back to New Mexico this morning. Back to school. Back to the next chapter in a life whose pages are still damp with ink and whose stories are fresh and different places. We towed her bags in a lumbering effort to prolong the trip, just a little more. The shallows full of silence were met with waves of a funny story here or a random observation there. And then we talked, on the nothing and the everything.

After checking her bags, we walked to the security checkpoint as I loosed my mental checklist for her yet again. No matter that I knew the answers to the questions, I asked anyway. She whispered check to my simple queries . . .Phone?  . . check . . Charger? . . check . . She clutched at her drivers license and boarding pass, as I clutched and stumbled on the idea of what the next several months are going to feel like. The winter seemed too damn long a thing inside the moment, so I smiled it away.

When it came time to part ways, I hugged her tightly and then I kissed her and then we said our “I love you”s and then she moved away and then I let her.

I moved to my place as she took hers and then I looked back to find her moving away from me. For a time, I watched her standing there in her red coat and blue jeans and her cowgirl boots. Her hair was tossed back into a wrap, each crazy ribbon of which sings a different song. She moved along the line in her simple, elegant way until she’d made it to the checkpoint.

As I walked to the car, I thought about how I had promised myself I wasn’t going to cry this time and how I had made good on the promise, this time; despite a stray tear threatening to break that promise. I didn’t cry this time.

I kept my promise, till Exit 4.


15 thoughts on “the promise

  1. Aw Sheriff. Been there and have the stained shirt. My little one now lives in Austin and each time I think it’s going to get easier and it doesn’t. When she comes, it is for a few days at a time which I now count as precious. I know she must live on her own and I’m proud her mom and I prepared her for it. It still doesn’t make the parting any better. I guess I will be the same until I’m gone. Nicely, she loves to visit and then loves to return to her life and good for her.

  2. Oh, man. You had me right there walking that terminal with you and your sweet girl. I would have put commiserative hand to your shoulder, but I figured the gesture at that point would be the thing to open the floodgates. (At least, that’s the way it works with me.)

    Looks like you and I are having the same kind of day. Just blogged about my boy. Hard to let those kids go, I SO get that. If we could only take that kind of love and make it a religion that everyone could feel well and truly, what a different world we’d have.

    We are lucky people, you and I. Now, please pass me the tissues . . .

    • Wild Words,
      I brought this comment up on my phone earlier and I got all weepy reading it. Even though I was going to wait till morning to read up on my peeps, now I MUST go over to your blog and read about you and the boy. I’m grabbing a box of Kleenex before I do, and I am so not kidding about that.

      And yes, we are the luckiest of people. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Beautiful! Just beautiful! Alas I remember when my daughter, my only child, was leaving for London (study abroad program) had dinner (hard to swallow continually with a lump in my throat) and said our farewell goodbyes by her car. She would be gone for two semesters and, unbeknownst to us both then, didn’t even come home for the Christmas holidays as she would be stuck in a minor snowstorm (6 inches) which proved way too much for Heathrow to deal with.
    First time she’d been away from me this long. There was a full moon in the parking lot that eve. & I felt a hundred eyes stars at me while I openly sobbed . “Dad, you’re such a wuss!” she said half smiling.. That was 5 years ago & I’ve been fine ever since. (wait till her wedding….)

    • Oh my God, Papa. What a great story! it speaks to the fact that no matter what, they will always be our little girls. And yes, I can only imagine what you’ll be like on her wedding day. I suppose anyone withing hugging distance of you is going to have to wear galoshes. 🙂

  4. Hard promises to keep… I promised myself the same thing, driving my son to the airport a bit more than a week ago. He may not be home again until next Christmas. But he’s doing exactly what he’s meant to be doing. All those conflicting feelings: pride, sadness, confidence in him…
    Thanks for a lovely piece of writing.

    • Hard promises, indeed. Next Christmas? Wow….I feel you. And I love how you put it because that’s what gets me through the lonely times as well. They’re moving their lives into being, and it’s a really inspiring thing to watch, even when you have to let them go to let it happen. So very, very well put. Thank you for this comment. Good stuff.

  5. You’re talking to the chick who cried at the computer yesterday while editing my latest post.
    Those tears? They are totally worth it, daddy.
    You, me and Mary…our kiddos had us all wrapped up in their ribbons this weekend.
    Loved this! xo

  6. Duuuuuuuuuude what a great post, totally feeling for you buddy. I know the whole airport dropping off situation can be tough. But just know that she was probably thinking about you too…thinking how awesome her dad is and how great it was to hang with him. Sending you sunshine from Cali.

    • Guat- You ALWAYS send me sunshine, even on the rainiest of days. And I gotta tell you, your piece on the girl at the traffic light? That’s some writing, right there. You painted a picture, you made me FEEL like I was sitting in the car looking over at her, rummaging for chocolate. Great writing excites me. And that, was pretty fucking great. Thank YOU.

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