She leaned her face against the glass and felt the tears smudge between her cheek and the clear cold surface. Her face hurt from the long effort of trying to pin the smile in place so that he wouldn’t be made too sad by her sadness as he boarded the plane. This was The Day, after all, and it turned out he’d done a fabulous job of getting all this together, while she hadn’t prepared herself properly for it at all. She thought of the day Dave had started kindy, but then decided he would move out and start a family. What prepares you for this moment when you’re staring through the glass?
Anyone in the lounge not similarly moved by their own sense of an ending might have looked at her and felt for her, especially if they’d observed the emotional farewell that the young man had been given. ‘Look at that poor mum,’ they might have smiled as they nudged each other, older parents nodding at each other warmly and in sympathy, remembering when they stood where she stood and waved off the ones she had waved off. Mentally they probably patted her back, patted her hand, murmured warm words, but although she knew she looked a little bit on the dejected and pathetic side of a sight, she was oblivious, and just stood there, finding herself wishing Dave had come, wishing they could have at least waved him off together.
Without him there, it came home to her that the babies had, of course, carried out nature’s game plan (with individual modifications that only Dave and Mike could make) and become six-foot-one-inch men. She’d reached that awful terrifying milestone space where you realise that your children really belong to the world, are really out there. Both on their own and no longer just your world, no longer just yours. Which is kind of irrational. Ok, it’s very irrational, but there it was. The Space Between. Where now Dave and Mike filled different places, and filled them to bursting.
If she was conscious of this debate going on in her head, it didn’t show in the limp figure now forlorn against the glass, although she did move once she realised that the pressure of the surface of the window through which she was watching her world change was pushing the rims hard against the bridge of her nose, which would later yield an attractive dent. Foggy with tears and fingerprints and the streaks left behind by the futile swipes of some McDonalds serviette she’d found abandoned at the bottom of her bag, she took the glasses off, let them hang loosely at the end of her fingers.
Her eyes never left the plane. She watched as it backed away from the terminal. She took a deep breath. Self-consciousness began a slow return, and she straightened up a little, dug deep to find that lost bit of pride in his adventure. She thought vaguely about shouting encouragement through the glass. She smiled at the picture that would make, and dug out her phone. She called Dave.