Photo: Lily napping in the Omaha airport
For me, goodbyes– even under the best possible circumstances– are terrifically painful. Both departures and arrivals always require leaving someone or something, which makes it funny– ironic, even– that the life that Dmitri and I have chosen requires us to say goodbye so often. So when Lily and I left Texas for a quick trip to Iowa last week, I expected to feel a little bit sad about leaving my home and two of my favorite creatures. I expected, too, to feel a fair amount of anxiety about flying with a young (and therefore unreliable) toddler. And I definitely expected to have a mini-meltdown when I had to say goodbye to my family after what I knew was going to be a way-too-short visit.
I didn’t, however, expect to sit next to a woman– in her mid-eighties, I’d guess– who told me all about her travels around the world. I love to fly, she explained. Being up so high helps me appreciate what the good lord made. And while my own how-it-all-came-to-be philosophy is still under construction, I couldn’t help but appreciate how well her belief system seemed to be serving her.
And the young mom to three of the most stunning kids I’ve ever seen in my life (she shared IPhone pictures! We squealed!) traveling solo for work who helped keep Lily busy (and happy!) during a 20-minutes-too-long flight number 2? Certainly not what I expected, either.
Or the super-saggy-pants teenaged boy who chased me down just to return the stuffed koala that Lily had dropped? Or the bespectacled older gentleman who deftly (and one-handedly!) collapsed the stroller I’d been struggling with in about 3 seconds? Or the countless other strangers who held doors and smiled generously and rescued fallen hot pink jelly sandals? All exceeded my greatest expectations.
Although it’s pretty clear to me that getting comfortable with goodbyes will be one of my big learnings this time around, I’m fairly certain that it will never be an easy practice. But I’m finding that, sometimes, it’s the hellos– and especially the unexpected ones– that help to make some roads on the journey feel a whole lot easier to navigate.