Trauma comes in many forms, but none, I would argue, is quite so emotionally uprooting than when your 10-year-old daughter is leaving for her first camp-out with her friends for two nights.
Elli and Katy, my two girls, have been enjoying the summer with Wasatch Kids, which takes them on day-outings. But today -- a date I have long been uneasy about -- Elli sets off to camp an hour beyond Park City with her friends, teen counselors and adult supervisors. She's a very picky eater, but the menu includes such delights as grilled cheese sandwiches, hotdogs and 'smores by the camp fire so that won't be an issue.
I did have concerns she might ring me at midnight as she did six months ago, crying on the phone in the middle of a sleepover for me to come and pick her up. I wouldn't have minded so much had the sleepover not been at the other end of the valley. She's promised me that this won't happen on the camping trip. I pointed out in turn that even if it did, there wasn't cell phone reception out there, so I couldn't come and rescue her.
But my unease connected with deeper feelings this morning. She's not the most demonstrative of children, but as I stood in the kitchen, chewing on some ham and pickles (I'm pursuing a protein diet in a bid to shift some pounds) she came up to me, her knapsack on her back, the water bottle dangling from it, and wordlessly held open her arms.
I got down on my knees and held her tightly and cradled her head in my hand, and felt all the love I've ever felt for her from the moment I first knew she was coming into this world blossom once more inside me.
"Love you," she whispered, her eyes large with unshed tears, with fear, with excitement, and then she turned away and headed off into the unknown.
For two nights, anyway.