We made another trip to Heathrow this morning, this time to take Daughter Number Two to her flight to Boston. I've learned to dread these drives, knowing I'll come home to an empty house. At the Departures set-down, a quick hug goodbye, followed by a batting back of tears. On the way home, invariably a sad song will come on the radio. Just when I need to exit the M25, I'm blinded by tears.
This time my husband stayed with the car, while I wheeled her bags to the entrance door—one last thing I could do for her, a last few moments in case either of us thought of anything funny to comment on. Then I walked back over three lanes of zebra crossings, brushing back tears. (At least I didn't do what I did last year: walk into the elevator and blindly push the emergency button.)
I liked the old days, when we could go inside with our loved ones, wait in the departure lounge making small talk, until they were called to board. Then we'd watch the plane taxi down the runway, and quickly run outside to see it lift into the air and fly off into the distance. The process gave a finality to the occasion, a formal seeing off.
But there was still that empty house to deal with later.
I guess goodbyes are just no good however they're done.