Grace arrived home from her grand adventure in China on Thursday night riding on the wings of a few miracles: some crazy mishaps getting to the airport, an impossible-no-way-she-could-make-it connection in LAX from an international terminal to the seemingly-miles-away Southwest terminal going through customs, etc. She miraculously made it and then proceeded to fly through our first massive monsoon storm of the season (the air has been heavy waiting for it for weeks), lightening filling the whole sky and pouring rain en route to pick her up at the airport.
But we got there and waited in great anticipation:
(Lu was already asleep and Dave had a church meeting so they missed that hoopla.)
Grace made it HOME, and with all those miracles in her wake (did I mention she survived a typhoon in China too??), you can imagine the jubilation to finally get that girl in our arms at the airport, Claire jumping in hilarious fits of excitement when Grace first came into view: a bright light amidst a sea of other tired travelers:
(That video just makes me happy.)
Bo wriggling out of Elle’s arms to wag her body with glee (yes, we brought Bo the airport with us, not the brightest idea…but look at her:
(We like her.)
She knows “her people,” that’s for sure!
There was so much excitement in the air as stories spilled out and the stress dissipated, no matter all the unpacking and repacking we had ahead of us for the few hours closing in on us before we left the next morning.
We said a prayer of gratitude when we got to the car, all luggage and girls accounted for, ready for the merge from one adventure in China to the next adventure of starting off her college career on a little island in the Pacific.
Elle’s arrival a few days before was much less rocky, a drive from Utah all by herself listening to audible books and podcasts, pulling in the driveway in Ted (the truck) as smooth as butter right before Lu and I arrived hot and sweaty from our daily ride home from school through the oven of a desert afternoon. The house was alive with excitement to see her too, of course.
There is something about having college kids home that almost makes my heart ache, so heavy with love and gratitude to have them home mixed in with melancholy that you know they have to leave again, and you don’t know quite how to situate yourself and your emotions to do that in a seamless way.
She rode bikes with us to school:
Soaked up those little sisters:
And then Grace came home for that one whirlwind night where we unpacked and repacked and tried to sleep for a few hours before we got literally only five minutes the next morning with all four girls reunited, Claire off to school, then Lu:
And then headed right on back to the airport again.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep or maybe it’s the emotion that comes with parenting in general including hints of Lucy’s house-of-cards triumphant introduction to junior high dangerously shifting mixed with the fact that I was going to miss my little girls at home and mostly that I’m taking my third child to college that got me fussed up, but I hit a breaking point at the security check at the airport that morning. They flagged Grace’s carry-on bag where I happened to mistakenly stick a big bottle of her expensive hair stuff, and told me I’d have to throw it away.
Yes, that was the breaking point: the point where I found myself crying over an oversized airport trash can trying to salvage at least a little bit of that hair stuff into a carry-on size container. That, randomly, was when it all came crashing in on me that I have to do this again: this business of letting go. And also this raising-an-adult business. This unchartered territory I’m trying to navigate that feels so foreign and stiff and rusty in comparison to those younger years I feel like came so naturally to me. And then I question: did it really come naturally or did I struggle with that too?
But there we were on the plane, my girls and I in an exit row that Dave painstakingly situated for us (he came a little later since he has to leave directly for China from there), all three eating melted KitKat bars Elle had stashed in her backpack left over from her birthday. I’m going to have to pull up my bootstraps and let my children go.
And it’s going to be ok. But that knowledge somehow doesn’t make it any easier.
Today they start school, those girls of mine on that island far, far away.
There is something so comforting about the fact that they are there together, it is true. They are so excited and I’m so excited for them. But I left part of my heart there with them, that’s for sure.