So where to begin? My two girls are growing up, can’t deny nor avoid the truth of it. But, I don’t have to like it, or do I? I look at them and think, wow, what amazing women they are turning out to be…. but the instinct to hover & protect them is very strong. My need to keep them close, under my wing, comes from so deep in my DNA that it defies logic & reality. Truth be told, it is all a delusion to think I can protect them from the world as the world has proven that time & time again. Does that reality really need to come in the form of a breath stealing blow? Can’t we just slowly ease into this independence thing without heartbreak & drama?
It’s a long drop from the nest my little fledglings. I will be there rooting for you and do my best to soften the landing. Once you have toddled off the rim all I can do is hold my breath & give you the best advice I have for how to keep yourself afloat. It is a day like today that I find little comfort in knowing that this is the nature of things.
Yesterday morning at 3:00am we set off to take Elena & her Japanese teacher, Lily, to the airport. They were off to spend 3 weeks in Japan together to soak in as much of Japan as they possibly can. We were excited, ecstatic really, that she was getting to make this fabulous journey, truly a dream come true. We were excited talking about how crammed their suitcases would be on the journey home, what they would eat, see, and experience. Elena was elated, she could hardly contain herself. I was so happy. I felt totally confident that Elena would have a trip of a lifetime and that she would be safe, she is in very good hands with Lily. Nothing to worry about, we had thought of everything & planned for every possible glitch.
They arrived safely to San Francisco 35 minutes early and all was looking perfect for another uneventful flight to Osaka. We had shared text messages with the girls about their progress. All was going well. We got the text message letting us know that they were sitting on the tarmac, they were the next plane to take off. We took our last moment of our ability to communicate to wish them well and to enjoy the 12 hour flight.
We weren’t expecting to receive another text a few minutes later saying that they hadn’t left because there was a “plane crash”. Dave & I immediately assumed that there was some minor happening that would slow them up a bit. But, more text messages kept coming, each one a little more frantic & concerning than the last. We put on the news and saw a large plane in flames on the runway in SFO. We knew Elena was there on a runway and this was happening in front of her. Dread, despair, panic, our baby was witness to a tragedy & I was not there to tell her she would be OK, that she & Lily were safe.
THAT is the moment that I realized how much magic a mother can perform. We have the power to kiss a boo boo and make it all better. We can hold our babies in our arms and they will feel safe from whatever they fear. As the babes grow older, we need to to do this less & less often. Perhaps I had even stopped thinking about this until the need to hold her was so coldly thrown in my face, without the ability to do so.
Elena was being brave, trying to assure me that everything was OK. But I know that she was trying to be strong for me. The only thing I wanted was to take her in my arms in a rib crushing embrace…. at this stage in her leaving the nest Elena would no sooner die than receive that hug. She is tolerant of my need to kiss her & hug her, but I know she doesn’t like it. I force myself on her anyway. I’d be willing to bet that in this case she would not resist my grasp on her.
The hardest thing for me during this time was not being able to see her. Elena is stoic and I need to see her in order to read the body language that tells me how she is really feeling. I have no confidence in the “ha ha’s” and smiling emoticons in the messages she is sending me. I know that she is panicking on the inside but doesn’t want me to know, to worry about her. She sat on the tarmac for 3 hours while emergency personnel attended to the tragedy that laid on the runway before them. All the while Elena is sending us messages saying “it’s bad” and sending photos of a plane in flames. Knowing that she wasn’t in any danger did not comfort me much because I knew she needed me and I wasn’t there. Back home we had CNN live coverage & we were feeding info back to the girls sitting on the plane. We saw video of survivors exiting the wreckage and I needed to let them know that it appears there would be relatively few deaths. “Few deaths”? How reassuring is that when you are sitting on a 747 witnessing a tragedy? OMG and what about those waiting at the airport, excited to see their loved ones who were on that plane returning from a trip to Korea? Jesus, why I am feeling so concerned for myself? Because I love her. Because she gives me a reason to wake up every morning. Because she is an amazing kid who at 15 is trying to protect me from 4,000 miles away. Because she is beautiful, talented, and has a kind & loving heart. Because I cannot imagine life without her.
Thank God she is safe.