The alarm cut through the dark silence jolting me into semi-consciousness. I reached out and turned it off and immediately felt the tightening in my stomach. The time for goodbye was upon me.
I sat up in the bed of the hostel where we'd stayed for the night close to the airport and sent a text to the two rooms beside mine asking if my adult sons were awake. Two of them had to be at the airport around 5:30am and I was surprised to find them both up already even though neither wanted to be there so early.
The 20 minute ride was quiet. Goodbyes are hard and my throat felt full. We got out and unloaded their bags and I hugged them. We prayed and I hugged them again and they walked away.
I got back into the truck and sat in the seat where Micah had just been and looked back to where Nik was sitting only moments before. The emptiness in the vehicle felt loud and oppressive but I sat without saying anything allowing myself to feel the grief of separation again. At this point, I know better than to wallow in it but I also know it's okay to recognize that saying goodbye hasn't gotten easier.
We spent the rest of the day with Alex since his flight was scheduled for 14 hours after theirs. It was a lot like slowly pulling a bandaid off. I loved just having him there with us but the rawness of knowing the whole day was sort of a prolonged pathway to parting made it difficult.
All day I kept sensing God telling me to think back over the month and be thankful. To remember all the time and energy the boys invested in the visit. From helping with homework to playing ball to motorbike rides and bedtime stories ... it all added up to so much for which to be grateful. The difficult part is not having a clue when we'll be together again. C@vid has us all a little gunshy, I think, that maybe somehow travel will again be impossible and months will turn into years. God keeps reminding me the future isn't our business or He'd show it to us and so worrying over it is outside our jurisdiction.
Our boys came an loved right alongside us. They opened themselves up and found our Thai children eager to receive what they had to offer. They made a mark and now they've left a hole.
As I finish writing this we're driving away from the airport for the second, and final time today. Alex's seat now sits empty, as well, and our truck is filled with the tears and sniffles of little boys who weren't ready to let go of their big brothers.
I'm letting myself join them in crying without shame or guilt. But I'm also remaining intentionally aware of the undeserved blessing of having an entire month with my whole family together ... all 33 kids were in one place and that's not something that can be passed over without gratitude.
Surrendering to God's plan for our lives isn't without some pain in the short-term but there is absolutely no way to outgive Him.
Most of the time we just fail to notice the deposits of blessing He leaves in our account.