© 2015 PixelJo

My First Miracle Still Brings Me To Tears

Just about a year ago, my thirteen year old daughter came home from school to tell us that her Spanish teacher was hoping to put together an immersion Monteverdetrip to Costa Rica for the next year for 8th and 9th graders.  I thought to myself, what a great experience.  If we can afford it.  If she really wants to go.  If she’s selected as part of the group.  There were a lot of “Ifs,” but I wasn’t really worried about it.  Not in the spring.

Fast forward to October.  The “informational meeting” was scheduled, so we attended.  There were probably about 40 students there, with one or both parents.  The goal of this meeting was to provide preliminary information about the trip; enough information for families to determine if they wanted to participate in this trip, and to determine if they would be able to afford it.  The questions that cropped up at this meeting were very specific and somewhat tedious.  At the time, ebola was on the rise here in the States, and I wasn’t too worried about a lot of the things people were asking.  In hindsight, I should have been.  Not because any of the issues have come to fruition, but because maybe if I worried a little more then, I would be a little less worried now.  I don’t really think I would call it worry.

The months passed, and the trip got closer and closer.  My kid is usually about as laid back as her dad, and it is certainly something I love about both of them.  It helps keep me grounded about things I could otherwise be bent out of shape about.  About two weeks before take off, I started thinking about how I didn’t want her to go.  I had no rational reason for it.  The trip was paid for, in full.  I knew there was nothing that would compel me to keep her home.  I just didn’t want her to go.

After outfitting her with new hiking sneakers, moisture-wicking t-shirts and tanks, and various other sundries for traveling, we were ready to take her to the airport.  I knew I would miss her, and not just because I knew that she wouldn’t be here to play with her sister. But as I watched her go through security, I felt a lump rise in my throat.  I felt tears start to fill my eyes, but forced them back.  I knew my husband would think I was off my rocker.  I had been hearing lots of “she’ll be fine” and “what are you worried about?”

I spent the next forty-eight hours thinking about the “why.”  Why was I worried about her?  But I realized it wasn’t…isn’t worry.  My daughter is a good person.  For the last several years, I had made a conscious decision to be like the best role model I know – my father.  But while I struggle to be like him, she IS like him.  She never thinks badly of anyone, she is always willing to help, she is empathetic, and although sometimes grudgingly, she will play on the Xbox with her sister, read her a book, or play some other game with her.  No.  What I was feeling was just “missing her.”

It is only 9 days.  I knew she is in good hands.  She is with her best friend.  A best friend who had a phone set up for international use, and was willing to let her use it.  But I think what became most evident, is that she would come back a different person.  I wasn’t just missing her.  At airport security, I had said goodbye to my little girl.  Let’s be honest. When she comes back, she will be a little older and a little wiser.  But not too much.  No matter how much or how little she changes, that little girl who used to hold my hand crossing streets, the one who used to “lawyer up” on everything her father and I ever shared with her, the one who didn’t really know much outside the microcosm of our familial geography, she would not be coming back.  That made me a little sad.

Her teachers have been posting updates on a closed Facebook group.  These updates include pictures, some narrative, and some commentary.  I wonder how many other parents like myself are watching the group constantly for any update or picture.  What I find truly amazing, is that my daughter is out there, in a foreign country, doing things I couldn’t imagine.  She has hiked and zip lined through the cloud forest, she has been immersed in a Spanish-speaking home, she has been managing her own money.  She has been doing all of this without needing me.  We are on day six and she has only called twice.  It makes me happy that she is so independent.  It feels bittersweet that she doesn’t need me anymore.

This trip really is the first step to her getting out, and getting away, and growing up.


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2 Comments

  1. Crystal
    Posted April 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm | #

    JoAnne,this is truly beautifully written from the heart. You’ve made me cry, again…. I do feel the same way they left as innocent girls in their little micro-bubble of a world and come back experienced travelers to another country, another language, another family, a whole new level of patience (and they thought sisters were tough) and needing to face their challenges, fears and anxieties on their own (without mom and dad). I am so proud of them and all they have accomplished on this trip but selfishly look forward to cuddling on the couch with my little girl, her head resting on my shoulder. Thank you for this beautiful post.
    Come home safely our beloved travelers!

    • PixelJo
      Posted April 26, 2015 at 9:36 pm | #

      Thanks, Crystal. It took me a few days to compose because I just wasn’t getting it right, but I am happy with the finished piece. It really sums it all up perfectly.

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