This morning I’m picking up my in-laws from the airport. It’s been over 20 years since the 9/11 attacks and the change in airport security, but I still feel the nostalgia of greetings and goodbyes at the gate.
I remember many early mornings being picked up at the Milwaukee airport after a Christmas Eve red-eye flight from Los Angeles. Bleary-eyed and stumbling out of the jetway my ex-husband and I would be greeted by his mom and dad with open arms and the look of a kid opening up presents on Christmas morning. Only the gift was the arrival of their son.
I remember turning back to look at my in-laws as we headed back to California, everyone with tears in their eyes. Before FaceTime, the only time we’d see their faces again would be the next holiday or school vacation.
I remember leaving for a school trip to Europe, flying across the globe without my parents. (It wasn’t the first time; my first was as an infant! That’s another story.) They patiently sat and wandered around the airport with me as we were required to arrive hours before our flight actually took off. I was a moody teenager and I’m sure I didn’t show it, but it was comforting to have them there.
I remember just a year after 9/11, making the extra effort to greet my husband inside the airport when everyone’s new routine was to just wait at the curb, only to find that he would never arrive. A foreshadowing of things to come.
It’s time for me to head out and wait for the call that my mother and father-in-law have arrived and they’re ready for me to head over from the cell phone parking lot. They insisted on taking a shuttle, but I was free today and wouldn’t hear of it. What kind of daughter-in-law would that make me? For me, picking someone up at the airport is a true expression of love.
Will these moments at the curbside be remembered years from now?