Last week I dropped these two blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls off for their first trip to Europe.
They were going on a mission trip over spring break with our church and one was heading to Hungary and one was heading to Germany and they were so excited the car was literally bursting at the seams with pillows and blankets and shampoo and presents for their host homes and jackets and mittens….
Words were that everywhere.
Dancing off the walls of the car.
Spilling out between laughter and giggles and exclamation points.
Breathless, excited words that were full of the promise of an adventure.
There were all the words that were left unsaid. All the words that I wanted to say.
Lonely and frightened and worried and overwhelming words.
Words like “don’t go” and “I’ll miss you” and “I’m not ready for you to go 14 countries and a continent away.”
We gathered up their bags and walked through the doors and got their name tags and their itinerary and found their group.
I asked them all the last-minute questions that a mom is supposed to ask. Like did they have their passports? And did they have toothpaste? And what about gum for the plane and two sets of jackets for the winter weather and a book to read and a neck pillow for the trip so they could make sure to sleep before they arrived in London?
All the questions.
All the last-minute details.
All the focusing on trees to avoid the forest up ahead.
I grabbed their hands and looked into their faces and we prayed and I told them that I loved them and that they were wonderfully and fearfully made and tried to imprint those blue eyes so full of wonder onto my heart.
And then it was time to go.
I held onto those hands.
I held them like I would never let them go. I held them like they were a lifeline. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t do this. If I held on just a little longer maybe they wouldn’t leave.
They rolled their eyes and gave me one last hug and took their blue eyes and their hands…
…and walked away.
I stood there with tears in my eyes and a heart so heavy that it thought it might burst and watched them walk.
And thought of all the other days I had let their hands go.
The day they took their first step.
The day they walked into kindergarten.
The day they learned how to roller skate.
The day they left to spend the week with their grandparents.
The day they walked into high school.
All the days that had gone before.
And all the hand-letting-go days to come.
The day they graduate from high school.
The day they leave the nest.
The day they go to college.
They day they get married.
I’m not sure I’m ready.
I’m not sure I can do this.
I’m not sure I can let go of those hands and find the words to say to let them go.
Happiness and sadness mixed together words.
Words like “you got this” and “you will be amazing” and “I’m proud of you.”
I know the hand letting go days are just around the corner.
But for now. But for today. But for this minute and this hour, I’m holding hands and holding on.
Just a little longer.
And when that day comes I’ll find the words I want to say most of all….
….”my hands will always be here—ready to hold.”