As we walked through the airport with him, I recalled the time a few weeks earlier when a whole van-load of us arrived to greet him. In fact, as we told him later, if anyone else had come with us to pick him up, there wouldn't have been room for him! We joked about driving up and saying, "Hello! Sorry there isn't room to take you home with us!"
And while we were waiting for the first sight of him in front of the sign that warned no one was allowed beyond that point without a boarding pass, two of his sisters argued about who should be the first one to hug him when he finally got there. We were so excited.
When he finally came walking down the isle towards us, I drank the sight of him in the way only a mother can and I remember feeling as though all was right with the world because my son was home. The tears that sprang up so quickly in my eyes then were tears of joy.
But today, I watched my son walk away from me to board the plane that would take him to the other side of the country and the tears came again. I know children are supposed to leave and mothers are supposed to cry when they do but it still felt wrong. All was not right with my world. Because, when Dustin left, though my eyes saw a tough, independent, young Marine walking away, my memory recalled what it felt like to hold his hand when we crossed the street together and my heart saw the little boy who still called me Mama leaving me all over again.