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Day 78 - Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well the day has finally come. I have to take the kids to LAX today and they will board a plane to spend the holiday with their dad. My daughter will return but my son will remain.


I am reminded of the Peter, Paul and Mary song of the same title:


All my bags are packed

I'm ready to go

I'm standin' here outside your door

I hate to wake you up to say goodbye

But the dawn is breakin'

It's early morn

The taxi's waitin'

He's blowin' his horn

Already I'm so lonesome

I could die

So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you'll wait for me

Hold me like you'll never let me go

'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again

Oh babe, I hate to go

There's so many times I've let you down

So many times I've played around

I tell you now, they don't mean a thing

Every place I go, I'll think of you

Every song I sing, I'll sing for you

When I come back, I'll bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me

Tell me that you'll wait for me

Hold me like you'll never let me go

'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet…


While this song is about romantic love, it is what is running through my head this morning. So many of the sentiments the same for me today (except the wedding ring thing - let’s be clear - I do not want to marry my son!). I feel lonesome and while death is not the place I am fearing today, I am super sad. When they board the plane today, I will want to kiss him goodbye and have him smile for me. I will hold him like I will never let him go.


I remember this song playing on the radio when I was a kid. I would sit in the back seat of the our giant 1970s station wagon and my parents would sing as we drove. I remember thinking that I thought the song was so sad and stupid. Why was this person so in love with someone but then leaving them? Why didn’t they just not go? If they had to go, why didn’t they just take the person with them? If they loved them so much, why did they “play around”? As a kid, I was not capable of understanding how complicated adult lives could be. Today I fucking get that...


Today the song totally makes sense to me. To hold the desire to stay or be with someone but be unable to stop life’s circumstances from allowing you to do exactly what you want. There are job expectations. Children. Health issues. Financial woes. There are literally a million reasons people board planes every day and leave the ones they love most behind.


Today, I will be taking the two humans I love more than anyone else on this planet to board the jet plane. I cry every time, regardless of the fact that most of the time, they are only gone for like six days. They both admonish me to not make a scene. Which is funny because my tears have always been private, not being one prone to outward displays of high emotion. At one point in time, I would have selected being punched in the face rather than crying in front of you. Which is stupid. But it was my reality for a long time.


Where am I going with this?


I guess what I am trying to say is that being vulnerable hurts. It is painful to allow others in. I think back at how successful I once was with not really caring about other people. They could come or go and my pat response was one of anger not sadness or pain. I could not identify with the painful part, I could not risk being that vulnerable.


Today, I feel like a mess. I can’t stop the tears flowing down my cheeks. I will not make a scene at the airport. At least not while they are there. My son requested my mom come so she will be there to shore me up. I may have to take a knee in the Southwest terminal...and that will be so much growth for me. Crying when I am in pain such a gift. I didn’t used to be able to do that. I couldn’t cry unless I watched Terms of Endearment or some other heartbreakingly sad movie. That part of myself off limits, denied access.


I am so grateful for being able to feel the pain in real time. I am happy that I can be sad. I feel like a more complete human being. I think I have done such a disservice to my children by keeping my tender feelings to myself.


This morning as I write, my son lays with his dog in bed with me. I am so honored that this is the place he wants to be on his last morning. Laying next to me, while I honor this writing commitment. It amazes me that he honors this time too. Like he somehow understands that writing is therapy for me and I am kind of in desperate need of it this morning.


What occurs to me about the song today is how manipulative it is. Clearly the people in the song have a long history together. There has been infidelity. There has been a lot of playing around. But now for some reason, the singer feels like showing up on their love’s doorstep as they leave for parts unknown, is the best way to tell them how much they love them. In fact, they go so far as to promise a life time commitment when they return in exchange for the promise that they will wait for them.


Seems to be love is like that. We get to decide how we want to give it. We can be tiny hearted, manipulative asses and use love as a weapon to gain ground and increase our ego. Or we can use love as a vehicle to better know ourselves and each other.


I love Peter, Paul and Mary. They are anthems of my youth. So much of my childhood spent on Friday and Saturdays nights, my mom playing her guitar and singing songs. It is a happy memory for me despite the drinking and I am sure adult drama that played out after I went to bed.


What I think I understand about the song today that I didn’t as a kid: It is a long life and we fuck it up a lot. We aren’t always ready to love when others love us. Sometimes we have to be on the verge of losing that love to really appreciate it. This doesn’t make us bad humans, it just makes us real humans.


So today, I will stand in the waiting area of their flight and I will just allow the tears to flow. I will not stand in my son’s way and manipulate him to stay. Because I love him, I will let him go try this new adventure. I will let him know that my heart isn’t going anywhere. There is always a place for him to return. I will tell him that I will wait for him and then I will hold him like I will never let him go. I will kiss him (if he will let me) and I will smile for him. Cause he is leaving on a jet plane...





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