Flying away from the ones you love

It’s a strange feeling. To fly away from your ‘home’, not knowing when you’ll return.


This afternoon I flew out of Canberra airport.

My parents took the afternoon off work to take me to the airport and we enjoyed a relaxed cup of coffee and a lamington together before my flight had to leave. It was lovely. But it also made it hard to leave.

It made me realise how tough it must be to say goodbye to your daughter, as she jets off to her home on the other side of the world. When she actively chooses to live as far away from you as she can possibly get.

My parents stood in the terminal and watched me as I made my way down the air bridge. I waved to them animatedly, but it was hard to keep on moving forward. I’m ready to head back to the life and community I have built. But part of me just wanted to run back up and go home with Mum & Dad.

As we took off I watched out the window as Telstra Tower, Lake Burley Griffin and the other landmarks of our capital city disappeared behind me. I was able to make out the suburb where my parents lived. The shopping centre where I’d had lunch with my sisters. The lake which I had run around with my Mum just a few days ago.

It was strange to think that so many of my loved ones were down there. Having left only an hour before, I could vividly imagine my youngest sisters sitting at home watching a movie. My other sisters at home with their kids, who – being on school holidays at the moment – would undoubtedly be enjoying a spot of playstation. My brother driving home from work, and my parents driving home from the airport.

As my mind imagined these scenes Canberra was left far behind. My eyes instead looked out over the vast countryside that swept on until it seemingly burnt up under the rapidly setting sun.

I felt a pang as I realised that I would even miss the dry brown earth of this place. The long roads made windy simply to keep drivers alert. The rivers and lakes full of muddy water.

I can’t claim the connection to this country that its original habitants must have had. But it does have some primal hold on me. It has imprinted on me, and even from 10,000 feet above I can feel it in my bones.

I record all this so that I can remember it. So that these observations and emotions aren’t lost forever in the mind numbing fog that descends when you travel to the other side of the world in cattle class. That I remember the love I have for my family, in the excitement of being reunited with my loving husband. And that I stay connected to my homeland, even in the thrill of exploring other new and exotic places around the world.

I recognise how incredibly lucky I am to have the gifts of freedom and travel. And I cherish them greatly. But it is at times like this that I am also abundantly aware of the cost of these gifts.

For every choice chosen, there is another unchosen.


  1. Caitlin

    This is a beautiful summary of the bittersweet moment you have experienced Catherine. Thank you for sharing it with us. xxx

  2. Tim

    This is a great insight into what everyone feels seeing you leave but knowing you are traveling and experiencing parts of the world many of us can only dream about. We always feel excitement when hearing you are coming home and extreme sadness when you leave. But what keeps the smile on our faces is knowing the next time we see you it will just like you never left except for all the stories about your great adventures.

  3. John Parker

    As someone with a daughter in London, I really get this. beautifully written Cat. I will be in London early July. We must catch up this time.

  4. Heather Waring

    What a beautiful piece Cat and very timely.I live away from home but not as far as you. As my mum gets older this is hard as I cannot be there to help and a few days at a time, lovely as they are, is all we have at the moment. My daughter will be going off to Australia in July to study for a semester and then to travel and as I read this I am so aware that at some point, she may choose to live far away. I have encouraged the travel which she has done since she was small, I have developed that love of exploration and I have always said that she should live where she chooses. What I want is for her to be happy and I’m sure this is what your parents and family want for you but I also know that distance will at times be hard to cope with. Thanks for sharing.


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