It was impossible to be sad on the way to the airport or at the airport. My friends made sure there would be no moping, no tears. Well, no moping, at least.
P&E, delightful as individuals and as a set, kindly picked up me and all my luggage and drove me to International. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and they were extremely gracious to get up early for this road trip. I just love being with them -- they are great company and so interesting and talented.
HC called as we were in route: could she meet me at the airport to bid me farewell in person? So she did, an early start for her as well, leaving her buzzing household in the hands of her patient husband. We sat in the little coffee area and chatted. I tried to tell her how influential she was in my time here (second only to the AIBs) but I couldn't do it without choking up.
She pressed an envelope into my hand, a little gift for my new house, she said, a piece of Irish linen from her own tea set. Then she stood and waved, waved, smiled and waved, watching me until the very last moment that I passed into the security queue.
That was my next-to-last glimpse of Northern Ireland. No sight was more beautiful.