When we arrived at the airport Rodney stopped at the curb in the terminal instead of parking. I was so confused as to what he was doing, was he expecting us to just drop him at the curb and say good-bye then and there? I guess the look on my face said it all and he told me his truck was to tall to park in any of the garages except one in a different terminal. I couldn't believe he was just going to drop him off and say good-bye like that. Later I realized that it was probably the best way for him to say good-bye. As Rodney sat and hugged Declan on that curb he held him tight and told him he loved him and how proud he was of him. I could see him fighting back the tears, and I had to look away in order to keep my emotions in check. Dec and I then grabbed his luggage and headed inside to the Delta counter to get him checked in. As we scanned his passport his name and some other really funky name came up. We were both a bit confused, but just clicked on his name and went on. We got all of his luggage checked in, and then headed to security. Declan's face was turning a little red and I asked if he was nervous. He smiled at me and said yes. As we headed toward the security line we noticed a Samoan family holding signs that said Return with Honor. Declan said, "I wonder if they have a missionary coming or going somewhere?" Honestly I could not really pay much attention to it because I was so afraid that if I broke my concentration I would fall apart. As we got to the opening of the security line, the lump in my throat felt like it was the size of a grapefruit. I sat and hugged my baby boy and fought to keep it together. He actually held me in an embrace much longer than I had intended, but hey, there was no one behind us and I wasn't going to complain. When we finally broke apart he headed to the security section and started emptying everything into those lovely gray containers. It was taking every fiber of my being to not start bawling. As he went through the X-Ray machine they decided to pull him aside and check something out. About this time the mother of the family with the "Return with Honor" signs approached me and asked if I had a missionary heading out. I nodded my head yes, as I didn't think I could speak. She then asked me where he was headed. It took me a minute to answer because I knew as soon as I opened my mouth I would lose it. I tried as hard as I could to speak normally, but the words Santiago Chile West Mission came out of my mouth as a sob, and I had to step around the corner so that Declan would not see me as I tried to pull it back together. She excitedly told me that her daughter was headed to that same mission, and then I realized that strange name that came up with his when we checked in was hers. I felt a huge surge of relief as I told her Declan would be so happy to have a traveling companion with him, and then I stepped back around the corner just as Declan was putting his belt back on and told him she was going to his same mission. He gave me a thumbs up, finished buckeling his belt, grabbed his carry on, and then it was the moment I had been dreading. He turned and looked at me one last time, mouthed "I Love You", blew me a kiss, and turned the corner out of my sight and into his new life. I quickly ran over to the sister missionary and wished her luck, and then did everything in my power to walk, not run out of the airport doors. As I hit the side walk where Rodney was parked I ran to the truck and hopped in as fast as I could. Rodney looked at me with tears in his eyes, and I finally let mine flow freely. As we drove off we sat in silence as the tears flowed down our cheeks. When our emotions were under control we talked about what an incredible guy Declan is and how blessed we are to call him ours. One thing that Rodney said was how lucky the people of Chile were going to be to have him there, and that he would be such a breath of fresh air to his president. Rodney is really soft hearted, so I order to not get real emotional he puts on a tough front. Once those walls are taken down though he has one of the most tender hearts around. When he says something like that you know that he is not just giving you lip service, but that he truly means it. I then saw a text that he had sent out to those he is close to. It said:
On the way home Rodney stopped by Bahama Bucks and let me drown my sorrows away with a Stawberry Daiquiri Bahama Mama Rama (a snowcone on a scoop of vanilla ice cream with cream on top). That evening Rodney and I sat in our living room alone watching a movie together, and then crashed out hard as we were both emotionally drained. As I went to bed and drifted off to sleep I wondered what Declan was doing, thinking, and feeling at that exact moment- and was hoping he was getting some sleep on the plane before he landed in Chile and started his first day in the MTC.