Time to take my own advice I guess. I just hate when that happens. I recently posted about our family portraits for the church directory, and I said all kinds of high falutin' stuff about growing and maturing and moving on; and how it's good and right and natural to do that; about not holding on to the past, etc. What was I thinking?
Yesterday morning, we took our oldest daughter to the airport in St. Louis. From there she was flying to Newark, NJ, and from there to Frankfurt, Germany where she will spend the next year. Obviously, she was quite excited.
Of course, Dad was much less so; Mom was the same. Little sister had the world's mopiest look and even her brothers weren't that thrilled. But here's the thing...
When I was her age, I was newly married and moving to Texas for seminary. I had already spent 3 months in North Dakota serving on a Sioux Reservation, a place I would take my wife and brand new baby just a couple years later. We stayed there for three years.
Now, granted, Texas and North Dakota are both within driving distance from where I grew up; only a couple days. Germany is nearly 5,000 miles away, across an ocean, etc. But still, we've arrived at that time of life when letting go is a natural part of the growing process.
And at least she is going to Germany for a "fun" thing, to serve as an aupair for a very nice German family, with their two adorable little children. I spent some time visiting on Sunday with a young lady in our church who served in the military for 8 years, and was deployed in Iraq for over a year. I can only imagine what her parents went through!
Still, this was the last thing I saw of my baby, and the last I will see for over a year.
I confess I teared up a bit walking away. Only ticketed passengers past the security check these days, so we had to just let her go, let her wander off to find her gate and then sit and wait almost two hours for her flight (it was delayed, of course). Tough for a parent to do. I know the goodbye is really only "see ya later." She does plan to come back in a year "or so" and work on her master's degree, and a few other plans. But it's time to let go. And it's a good thing.
So instead of remembering that last picture, and the sadness it provokes, maybe I'll try to focus on that other picture above. Remember how excited she is about this new experience. Focus on how this is going to be a wonderful growing experience for her and for me and for our family. And then, focus on thanking God for the 22 years (minus four at college of course) that we had with her nearby, and trusting that God has plans for her which He has been moving toward since the beginning. She's in His hands, where she's always been. And that's exactly where she needs to be.
Ich Leibe Dich, Sonnenschein!