I am tempted to drop you off in front of the school. Thoughts of all I have to do to get ready for my own class spur me on, and fall has finally appeared, bringing frosty mornings that have banished the too-hot days of summer to distant memory. I remind myself that these moments are precious and fleeting, so I get out of the car that has just begun to take the chill from the air and walk you to class.
The cold bites at nose and cheeks, drying my lips while bringing water to my eyes. Your little hand, encased in soft, knitted fingerless gloves, is warm and comforting in mine. We walk mostly in silence, only the music of children playing and the shuffling of your feet on the concrete pathway fill my ears. The hustle of the morning is forgotten as we slowly make our way across the playground, content to spend these few extra minutes together. We can't stay here, however, lost in the moment of your hand in mine, and the time comes, as it always does, to let you go. I draw your warm not-so-little-anymore body to mine for a hug and a whispered "I love you." I then turn to make my way back across the playground, this time alone.
You don't know that I turn back around one last time to see you adjust your backpack on your shoulders and gallop toward your room and your familiar routines of which I am not a part. Even after having done this for several years now, there is an ache in me as I leave you there. It is the ache that comes when you leave a part of yourself behind. That is another thing you don't know. There is a piece of my heart that belongs only to you. It follows you wherever you go.
I leave you because I must. I will go about my business as you will go about yours. But all the while, my heart will be anticipating that moment at the end of the day when my eyes will fall upon you and drink you in again, and I will be whole once more.