Terri Hanson Mead
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Terri Hanson Mead

Time to Fly My Little Birdy

Welcome Back My Sentimental Passengers:

I didn’t know if I could look at the pictures from my recent trip to Europe with Finn without crying Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic trip with Finn, a really, really fantastic time ().

But now they are gone. Finn that is. Off to Vermont to start college at University of Vermont. 2500 miles away.

And a lovely and gracious complete stranger (Katie, the AirBnb host) helped them get checked in, and get their 2 bags and a backpack into their fantastic new dorm room. Oh and she came back with sheets, towels, plants, and twinkle lights since the Bed Bath and Beyond order hasn’t arrived. Bitter? Me? Maybe a little. More sad and jealous than anything else.

How could I have thought that it was a good idea to let Finn travel by themself, on their 18th birthday, to a state they’ve/we’ve never been to, to stay in an AirBnb and then check in for college on their own? Finn’s pretty happy with the decision but me? I am a wreck.

I’m really going to miss this kid. I really like to spend time with them.
While Finn challenged us in unimaginable ways, we are better people for it. There’s now a gap in our house and in my heart.

This is us on Monday in Frankfurt, Germany where we had an unexpectedly long layover. Our flight from Lyon was delayed and we missed our connection. After 45 minutes on the phone / chat with United, we were rebooked on the 1:35 flight the next day. I got us a hotel room in Frankfurt in a sketch area not too far from the central train station and we went out and explored.

After a refreshing poke bowl from Aloha Poke (and a Kona beer for me), we walked to the river and down to new old Frankfurt. We were both tired and distracted by the same thing but in very different ways.

Finn was preparing to embark on a whole new adventure.
I was preparing for the loss associated with closing the chapter on a major part of our lives.

When Adam, our oldest, left three years ago, it changed our family dynamics but we still had Finn at home. We were still a family at home, just with one less kid. But now, it’s just me and Zeke and two cats and George.

It’s never going to be the same again and I know there will be new goodness but right now I can’t see it. It just hurts.

So on Monday, in Frankfurt, when we ended our evening in a pedicab with disco lights, music, and a supercool driver (pedal person?), it was perfect. It felt like the end of the trip. I hope I never forget how we both laughed in the pedicab as we zigged and zagged in the bike lane, on the sidewalks and in the street, enjoying the moment. I recorded the ride and captured (unexpectedly) our laughter and the joy of the moment.

I knew that Finn really wanted to be home to prep for their college departure and the 24 hour delay was stressful. I was happy, grateful even, for the delay because it meant I got 24 more hours with my baby, with the person I cooked with, went to museums with, did puzzles with, tried to speak French with, talked about books with.

It was the last 24 hours without the distractions of packing, seeing friends, and thinking about the next phase of our lives.

One in which Finn’s room is empty of everything but a zillion memories and Zuko the cat.

I couldn’t sleep after we dropped Finn off at the airport for a 5 AM flight and spent some time cleaning up their room. With less than 36 hours to unpack from one trip and get ready to move to another state, Finn left it in chaos (for Finn) and I needed to keep busy. Before 5 AM I’d cleaned their room, cleaned the backyard, watered plants, and cleaned out the refrigerator.

This was all while I actively monitored the flight and tracked their bags to make sure all was good. The illusion of control.

Yesterday was also Finn’s 18th birthday which nearly got lost in all of the college activity. I really tried to make it a special time with a homecooked Lebanese vegetarian meal Wednesday night and a birthday blueberry cobbler. Finn made the cobbler and Zeke made the ice cream and it was a team effort on the meal. I wanted so badly to make it special, their last night and meal at home for three months.

Birthdays should be special, especially the milestones like your 18th birthday.

I wanted Finn to know they were loved and supported, completely and unconditionally.

I wanted to make sure Finn wanted to come back home.

I had Zeke get an eclair for yesterday morning and we surprised Finn in bed at 2:15 AM with balloons and a candle and a poorly sung Happy Birthday song. Because of the spring NOLS and the summer Europe trip, there wasn’t much for Finn to open. Finn assured me it was all enough, more than enough.

Finn didn’t even complain about us wearing the Happy Birthday tiaras to the airport.

And now Finn has their dorm key and gave me a tour of their dorm which is really nice and huge. Much different from Adam’s experience at SDSU. Finn will share a bathroom with their roommate Josie (from Maine) and their first floor (not ground floor) room has a lovely view of trees and just a little bit of a mountain in the distance. The Bed, Bath and Beyond order hasn’t arrived but they won’t need it until the official move in next week when they get back from a 5 day backpacking trip (TREK) on the Vermont Long Trail with other new students.

A mini-adventure before the big adventure which has already started.

We are off for the weekend to sleep in the trees. I knew I couldn’t bear to be home without Finn so Zeke reserved another HipCamp spot, this time in the Santa Cruz mountains. And next weekend we will drive down to LA to take Adam and his girlfriend Jillian to a Capital Cities concert in Hollywood. I will get back to work on Monday in hopes of finding some distractions until I can finish processing all of these emotions. And, of course, to pay for all of this!

This hurts a lot. Thankfully I have Zeke and Good Boy George here at home and the support of so many of you. Thank you.

May you find peace, acceptance, and love today as you navigate being human.

With much love and gratitude,

Terri

P.S. Take the controls and be the pilot in your own life. It’s a beautiful day to fly, and you are cleared for takeoff.

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Terri Mead

IT consultant, expert witness, YouTuber, helicopter pilot. Making the world a better place, especially for women. Award winning author of Piloting Your Life.