Verklempt at the airport

Departures-and-Arrivals-BoardLast week I was meeting my mom at the airport, and I was sitting in this nice little waiting area just outside security.  I was a tad early, but I’d forgotten my readers, so since I couldn’t check up on my email and Facebook while waiting, I people-watched instead.  It didn’t take long to be mesmerized by a dad holding his young baby boy.  The child was maybe two months old, dressed in a darling little outfit that only a two-month-old can really pull off.  The dad was very sweet, and stood at the front of the waiting space, tender and eager.

I imagined who it was that he waited for.  Had mom gone away on a business trip, her first time away from her baby?  Did Dad know how anxious she would be to see her sweet child?  Or maybe Grandma and Grandpa were coming for Thanksgiving, and were meeting their grandson for the first time.  I did hope that the child’s awaited beloved would show up before my mom did, because I really wanted to see how the vignette would end.  (Although I could have easily convinced my infant-loving mother to stay and watch with me.)

And then the infant’s beloved showed up – a guy about the same age as the dad, bald in the cool-white-dude sort of way.  I don’t think he was the baby’s other dad, because it was clearly the first time the infant and adult had met.  I didn’t notice a resemblance between the two men, so I don’t think he was the uncle. The bald dude said hi to the dad and then went straight to the baby.  He held him and cradled him and rubbed his twin bald head and was so very, very delighted to meet this new little creature.  I could have stood there and watched them all day, the pure joy of the scene.

Fortunately – I guess  – I noticed that my mom was walking by looking for me, so I left my sweet scene and had my own little reunion.  It was not our first meeting, the first time a fifty-something and a seventy-something gazed into each others eyes.  A quick hug and kiss on the cheek was our version of the cradling and the rubbing of the head.

If airport walls could talk….  If a physical structure can hold the emotions of millions, imagine the feelings ingrained in the drywall.  All those goodbyes, some forever.  All those trips to go to a bedside, or a funeral, or a wedding, or a birth, or a courtroom, or a commencement.  All those reunions of lovers, of families, of old friends, of college roommates, of BFFs.  Fear, too, in those walls, and excitement.  It’s a wonder rebar and steel beams can bear the weight.

The holiday season will add to the airport walls, travelers heading out or coming home or getting away.  If I were among them this year (though I am not) I might leave my readers at home so I have nothing to do but watch the people, and get choked up, and be grateful.

Traveling mercies.

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