Final Departure

January 5, 2011
She hugs me tightly as my tears soak into the shoulder of her blouse. We both squeeze so hard, I can barely breathe, but I don’t let go. I know that when I let go, I’ll have to say goodbye. Over the loudspeaker, a man gives a final boarding call for the flight to Philadelphia. My heart sinks and I finally find the courage to break away from her embrace. I look her in the eyes and then down at the little boy standing next to her. I love this little boy. I take a good long look at him. He’s holding the little stuffed monkey that I helped him win at the fair last July. On his back, is his favorite Toy Story backpack. I wipe my tears away and pick him up. He’s still pretty light for a four-year-old.

I sniffle and put a big smile on my face. “Don’t you ever forget about me! Make sure you call me every once in a while, you hear me?” He lets out a laugh and wraps his arms around my neck. I try as hard as I can to hold back the tears that are filling my eyes. When he loosens his grip, I gently put him down and he grabs his mother’s hand.

I step back and take a look at my sister and my nephew. They have lived with me for the last two years and now they are moving away. I knew this day would come eventually, but I never thought I’d be this emotional. I look to my right and a woman standing by the ticket check smiles and points to her watch. I smile back and hand my sister her carry-on luggage. As we make our way to the gate, she tells me that she’ll call me as soon as she lands.

She hands her ticket to the woman at the gate and I give her one last hug. When she gets her ticket back, they both make their way down the long tunnel to the airplane. I hate to have to see them go, but I smile, wipe the tears that are building up, and walk away, knowing I’ll see them again one day.

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