Every summer (and every other Christmas) when I was a kid, I did what most children born in the 70s did: went from one divorced parent's house to the other's. My parents were great with each other (and with me) so thankfully I didn't have to deal with the contentious baloney that a lot of my peers went through, but I did sit there on the plane by myself at eight years old, crying my eyes out with my face pressed against the hot summer window, wondering if I could still see whichever parent I was leaving through the shiny wall of windows at the terminal. It didn't matter that I knew I was going straight to the loving and enthusiastic arms of the other parent, or that I'd been making this type of trip - in one form or another - every year since I was two, or that in a few minutes a very pretty lady who invariably smelled like expensive perfume was going to give me a pillow, a snack, and a plastic pin in the shape of wings.
What mattered was that I felt like I was basically personally responsible for my grief because I genuinely wanted to make the trip. I had absolutely no way of differentiating between the inevitability of being sad to leave one person and happy to see another. For me, it was all wrapped up in one big package - the sadness, the giddy anticipation, the painfully self-aware knowledge. I don't know if that's normal or not, but what I do know is that I've spent pretty much the rest of my life trying to avoid that particular combination of feelings.
So it kind of took me off guard this morning, sitting in my car and crying my eyes out with my face pressed against the glass window, trying to catch the last glimpse of my husband as he walks away, feeling the exact same way as an eight year old on a plane in June.