Yesterday I went to JFK International Airport with my 16 year old daughter to put her on a plane. She was gearing up for her first international flight but certainly not her first flight.
Darienne took her first flight when she was only 4 weeks old. She was strapped into front carrier on my chest and didn’t even flinch on the trip to Virginia. We were actually bumped to first class because I was nursing her wrenched between an elderly man and a wide eyed 12 year old boy.
When she was 7 she started to fly alone and she never had a problem with it. I remember picking her up from the airport and thestewardess said that Darienne was like a reporter in the air. She asked her countless questions about flying, why she became a stewardess, what she studied in college, etc.
One year, a small girl was getting on her first flight by herself and she was hysterically crying. Darienne walked over to the girl took her hand and said “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. I do this all the time.” The girl’s mother had a look of calm come over her and when the flight crew came to get the unaccompanied minors they were laughing like they knew each other for years.
When the trip to Germany came up in conversation a few months ago we knew that we were presented with an opportunity that doesn’t come up every day. Despite being knee deep in wedding planning, we knew that we would be doing her a disservice if we didn’t at least try to make it happen.
Needless to say that by the time we got to JFK yesterday I was a mess inside but she was just as calm as she ever was. With the insane traffic into NY and the minor flight issue at the counter by the time they suggested we get them to the gate we only had 10 minutes. Then the weirdest thing happened.
I was struck with the craziest sense of calm. I thought back to our first trip, then that first flight alone, and now here in one the largest and busiest airports on the planet… and I was okay with letting her go.
I hugged her again, gave her a kiss, and watched she and Natalie find their way to the correct gate and I knew that she would be just fine. After all, she’s been preparing for this flight since she was barely a month old.