Saying goodbye is easy. Parting ways is what tears out your heart.
I'm thrilled my son, Philip, chose to serve a mission, and I was tickled pink when I learned he would serve in Tokyo, Japan. The truth is, I've been so excited for him that I've smiled through most of the packing and formalities and preparations.....because I've been right there at his side.
This morning he stepped in line to board a plane, and for the first time I couldn't remain at his side. Saying good luck, farewell, I'm proud of you, goodbye; that's been easy because I know he needs to go do this—to learn and to help and to serve and to grow. He's ready. It's all good. But I didn't realize that at the moment I had to stop moving forward while he continued walking on through that line and out of my sight (waving graciously to his mom) my heart would claw out of my chest and go with him. It was hard for me to smile. And for the first time, I cried. Really cried. It hurt.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still very happy for my son. He is exactly where he should be. And the experience will make him a better person. But I already miss him, and I miss the part of me he took with him.
My son is going to be a great missionary. I know it.