The week before brought various emotions for all of us. Alex was the only consistent. He's been indifferent from the beginning. We get the occasional bought of excitement and he is constantly practicing his Spanish but other than that, he remains indifferent. I ask him if he's nervous or excited and he just shrugs and says "not really". He's good either way. Really, his brother and dog are his world and as long as they are both with him - he's good. Andrew struggled. He is a socialite. His friends really mean a lot to him - and they are all great kids. They threw him a surprise going away party on Wednesday, then on Thursday they all met and went out on the lake for a birthday wake boarding trip, then they all met for treats and a movie on Friday afternoon for the "final good-bye". Friday night he got together with Enoch Olmstead for a little Enoch fix before he left. Enoch and Andrew are two peas in a pod. They balance each other perfectly and have been friends since nursery. We'll all miss Enoch. The emotions were raw for Andrew. It was almost more than I could take. He knows and I know he'll be ok, but the sadness about leaving was great. The final text messages in the airport in Atlanta before we boarded were emotional for him, but he was courageous. He was not outwardly bitter or resentful - just sad.
Watching your children go through that is tough, so needless to say, I struggled along with him. For the most part Greg and I were too busy to feel anything but stress. Saturday morning arrived and our dear friends came in two vans to help us get to the airport. Shiela Jarvis offered a beautiful prayer for our peace and safety just before we departed and that became an emotional moment for all of us. I finally had a moment to process the whole thing. The fear of the unknown was overwhelming but luckily the excitement for the new adventure prevailed.
We made it through checkin with our mound of luggage smoothly. After paying almost $1,000 for our "over-weight, over-sized, excessive amount" of luggage, we were ready to board - dog and all. It was a ton easier to move around without all that extra baggage. We carried on a guitar, the dog, backpacks for me and the kids and briefcase for dad.
I sat in first class for both legs of the flight while the kids and Greg sat in the cheap seats. I'm a spoiled brat like that. Greg always gets upgraded due to his Diamond level status - so he gave me his seat and sat in the back as a good husband should. I do love that man. He worried about my back.
On the way to Atlanta from Phoenix, he and the kids were all in middle seats. We're not sure how that happened. We booked through the travel agent he always uses way back in February. So they were not even sitting together. I worried a little just because Andrew was upset and Alex is so shy - but everyone did fine. It ended up being a blessing because Andrew sat next to a grandma who talked his ear off. I think she sensed that he was upset (maybe it was the red rings around his eyes) so she went on and on about how exciting of an adventure this would be for him. She showed him pictures of her grandkids and pictures of clouds that she had taken (apparently she likes to take photos of clouds) and gave him her address to have her mail him a postcard from here. She was a little angel from heaven. I will forever be indebted to the sweet grandma in the window seat.
Atlanta was a breath of fresh air. The excitement of riding on the subway train to get through the airport ignited the excitement for the adventure ahead. This was a first for my boys and I saw a genuine smile from Andrew for the first time in days. Things were looking up.
We grabbed some dinner for the boys (I'd eat a 4 course meal in Business Class), took the dog to the dog park to stretch his legs and recharged our electronics in preparation for the 9 1/2 hour flight ahead.
Andrew said his final goodbyes via text messages, wiped his eyes and plowed ahead. Showing passports at the gate was the first time that the boys have used theirs and this brought a note of excitement back into the air. As we boarded the plane, a sense of eagerness for what was to come took over.