My summer of change was defined when my wife and I placed our 13 year old boy on an airplane to Israel for a visit with family. He was nervous with excitement for his new adventure and I was nervous with anxiety. My boy was traveling alone. Traveling alone. How would he fare on the long flight? Would he sleep? Would he be comfortable? I was concerned with the unknown, and I wasn’t there to protect and care for him.
At the airport, I tried to condense as much fatherly advice as I could into our last few hours together before my son’s flight took off. In the terminal waiting to board, I pointed to a suitcase on the floor situated carelessly away from a seated traveler, and I said, “Jack, always keep your luggage close at hand.” It seemed the only advice I could think of to give him before he boarded.
We sat down together and waited for his plane to board. Few words were spoken as we nervously smiled at one another. Jack sensed my worry and placed his hand on my knee to comfort me. I held his hand until boarding began and at the gate, I held this boy who was now as tall as I am for a long time before letting him go. Letting him go. He was now walking thru the tramway and just before he was out of sight, I shouted his name, Jack! He turned, I waved, he nodded calmly and waved, and then he was out of sight.
I sat down in a chair and wept because I realized that right before my eyes, my boy had begun his journey into manhood.
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