I spent the morning taking Eldest and Dancer to the airport; they are flying out to visit my cousin in Vermont for six days. You know: fresh air, maple syrup, picking blueberries, making pies -- that sort of thing. This is the fourth year Eldest has gone, and the second for Dancer. They love it, and my cousin, who is mom to two grown boys, loves having a week of girls.
My two girls sat on the train en route to the plane, sharing earbuds, being silly together. Eldest is old enough that we do not have to pay an unaccompanied minor fee now; the girls will travel alone. I looked at them and thought, There isn't a word for what I feel right now. Love. Loss. Pride. Worry. All those feelings mixed into one curiously empty lump huddled somewhere above my stomach and below my heart.
We arrived at the airport, and suddenly they were heading into the line for security, and it was time to say goodbye. A moment -- too fast, and yet not quick enough to prevent a surge of emotion -- a peck on the cheek, and they were gone. I found myself a chair off to the side somewhere and settled in with my laptop, waiting for their phone call to let me know they had cleared security, waiting for the alien feeling of empty-nestiness to subside.