I had no idea what to expect when we walked into the airport that morning. Well, that's not exactly true. I suspected (ok I knew) that it was going to be one of the most difficult experiences of my life. But I had been practicing for a few months the fine art of "staying in the moment" whereby you don't think about the past or the future, you just glide along in the here and now and enjoy each experience as it comes.
And I had been pretty successful in doing that, so I hadn't really given much conscious thought to how the morning would unfold. I knew a few things for certain. First, I knew my husband was leaving. Second, I knew it was going to be difficult. Past that, I hadn't really allowed myself to build any preconceived expectations of what would happen.
I won't go into the details of our goodbye. I am pretty sure that if you've ever had to say goodbye (and most of us have) that you can insert your own experience here and feel the emotions I felt upon saying goodbye to my husband of two weeks. The husband I had waited over 20 years to have. My soulmate. My heart. I know you get me.
The purpose for me writing about this is what happened after I put my husband on that plane. The airport authority was kind enough to allow me to accompany my husband back to the gate. After we said our final goodbye, he walked through the doorway and I lost sight of him as he made his way down the walkway and boarded the awaiting aircraft.
I made myself stand there and watch him. I waited a few moments. I think I was holding my breath. I didn't want to leave yet...I could still feel him there. So, I walked over to the window and sat in a chair and watched the plane. Some tears were sliding down my cheeks, but I wasn't out and out crying. I was in pretty good control of myself, considering. I sat there for several minutes and then something told me it was time to leave.
I stood, and began to make my way alone back the way Jack and I had come together less than 20 minutes before. I had only taken about 10 steps, when an older man in a long coat with a briefcase walked closely by me. He looked my way and simply said, "It will be okay," and then he was gone. I don't remember anything about him other than the coat and briefcase and words. I wouldn't be able to recognize him again, even if we were formally introduced. I was in a kind of fog.
As I made my way back through the airport, toward my children who were waiting in the car, I thought about the kindness of a stranger. The words are still with me. He was right. It will be okay.
And I hope that the man in the long coat was catching a plane home to a loving family. And that when he arrived, someone who loves him was there to greet him with a hug and a smile. He deserves that and more, for simply and without intruding, reaching out to a crying woman in an airport who had just placed the love of her life on the first step of a long journey far away from her.
Thank you, man in the long coat. You're in my prayers.