Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Last Goodbye

Home. Just before we left for the airport.

It's funny how each of my kids has their own personality. Ben has a lot of his dad in him. He spent a long time picking out which messenger bag he would get--the colors, the fabric, the strap. He also has a lot of his mom in him. He spent a lot of time deciding which pocket of his messenger bag would hold what--different colored pens, his journal, a few small toys to entertain himself and kids, even a couple snacks.

Arriving at the airport.
 I was so preoccupied with getting Ben out the door that I didn't notice that Eve had pulled out a too-small skirt and was sporting it with her Cinderella shoes. Kinda sassy. Kinda funny.
We had our heads up looking for his airline, when someone in a big hurry ran smack into Ben. With a quick, accented, "Sorry," the man tried to get around all of us, until we recognized that accented voice.
It was Jeff, Ben's rugby coach, headed off to Orlando . . . and he was late. At least he collided with a friend.

Waiting at the airport.
There was some of that.

Walking through the airport.

There was a lot of that. And everyone wanted to be next to Ben. That is, until the little boys discovered that the screens could be touched and with their touch, the image on the screen morphed around. Then it was fun to find the next bank of monitors.

Where is Mexico City?
There wasn't enough walking through the airport.

 Because, at the end of the walking through the airport, it was time to say goodbye.
 I wondered how Evie would handle this moment. She is particularly attached to Ben, and her mood can be . . . let's say . . . a little unpredictable.  She hugged and kissed and laughed and got back down to clicky-clack her Cinderella shoes through the airport some more.
 The little brothers (now the only brothers at home, and that's really weird to me, and they really should be renamed just "the brothers," but I don't know if that's even possible for me to say) hugged their brother with little emotion.
Lily and I, on the other hand, were both a mess. 

I don't know who cried more--Mom . . . 

. . . or Little Sister who lost her best friend.
 It wasn't all tears. Ben is much too funny and was much to excited for that.

I think Micah has inherited a bit of that humor as well.
There aren't words in my vocabulary or in my experience that can describe what it feels like to give your child--that teeny little boy who entered my world at 11:26 pm on April 24, 1996, and good-naturedly joked and teased and learned and played and matured and . . . insisted on growing up into a man leaving for a mission--one final hug that has to last for two years.

 As long as it was and as tight as it was, it wasn't long enough or tight enough.
 We tried to delay that final goodbye as long as we could.
After all, he had more than an hour until his flight was scheduled to leave.
But he was itching to begin this great adventure that he's been looking forward to and saving his money for and thinking about since he could ever remember.

And so . . .
. . . we had to let go. 

And we let him.
The image I will carry with me for the next two years is his final turn back to his family. He raised his fist in the air and pumped it a few times. In my mind, I could hear: "Hurrah! Hurrah for Israel!"--a line from the movie The Other Side of Heaven, a movie my kids have watched over and over on Sunday afternoons.

Goodbye, son. See you in two.

Hurrah for Israel.


  1. Stop it!!! I can't look at any more mom hugging missionary/crying pictures! It just makes me miss my missionary too much.

    Hang in there, girl. You know from experience that it gets easier in a couple of weeks.

    Sending LOVE!

  2. Okay, I'm a bawling mess, jenny. We're gonna be there in a few short months. I mentioned to Brigham than he and Ben should really stay in touch and have a cousin friendship like their dads. I cried during the last story on "Meet the Mormons" too about the missionary. It'll be here too soon, I know. I'm excited for Ben! We'll send him a package or two. :)

  3. And then you go home and hit the ground running, yet, it is not the same and the house is a bit quieter (or in our case A LOT) and there is a hole. For two years. However, those two years not only refine the missionary, it refines the parents and families of that missionary. I love that McKay said his tag proclaiming him a servant of Jesus Christ was worn over his heart. These boys were born at this time, to do this work. Hurrah for Israel!

  4. I have to warn you. The last one to go is the hardest. When my youngest son walked away in that airport heading straight to San Paulo and their MTC, I thought I might die from grief. He was the last of four and the first three went to Provo first which some how seemed to make it easier. It is always a blessing in our lives, but the emotions we feel are real. I loved your, "Hurrah for Israel!" So appropriate.

  5. I agree with Laurel, sending them to an MTC out of the country makes it so much harder. When I sent the first one to Provo it was a gradual release, the second one to Mexico City felt so final, so out of reach. It is so hard. But the alternatives are even harder.

  6. What are the odds that our paths would cross - millions to one no doubt - it was honor to say goodbye one last time to your stripling warrior. Kia kaha Kia toa Elder Denton!

  7. Goodbyes are hard when you know exactly how long it will be before you get to hold your kids in your arms again. I've been in your place three times already and it's just a hard thing we do as Latter-Day Saints...bringing our children up to let them go. May your family be ever so blessed in his absence and may Ben's adventures in the mission field bless his life.

  8. Oh boy, now you've got me blubbering like an idiot.

    That hug-that-has-to-last-two-years did me in. Even now, when I look at the pictures of me giving those hugs to my own sons, it gets me going.

    I love that he pumped his fist.