I had managed to put the pain off for so long that when it came, when I hugged her good bye for the last time at that gate, it came in waves, each one a little harder than the next.
She'll be in Philadelphia for the next few days for training, then she'll take a grueling 2-day air and land excursion into Lesotho.
As I held my family, all four of us, complete, for the last time in two years (and a little more), it was almost like I had never known how much a goodbye could hurt until just then. And then when she looked back at us one last time as she handed the attendant her boarding pass, it hurt again.
I'm sure innocent bystanders at the airport were wondering just how awful her business in Philadelphia must be that we were all crying so much . . .
I'm at Pablo's now, and Neko just sang "better times are coming still." While I know this to be true, it still hurts now. I know that I'll hear from her, hear of her adventures, her encounters, the ugly parts and the good parts. I know that I'll have my own adventures here, albeit much smaller and more domesticated. I know that I have wonderful friends here for me, and more friends come into my life as I go on. But there's going to be this time for a while where it just hurts and there's an absence. It's a hole I need to fill up with new things, new friends, new craziness, new stories to tell. This is the work I need to do . . . but right now it's like the earth has shifted beneath me. I need a moment to regain my bearings.
But I also know this time will go fast . . . and that I need to get as much out of it as I can. I need to really understand who I am without her . . .