Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

A Leprechaun’s Improvisation

March 17, 2016

On the evening of March 16th, when Kate was eight or nine, she greeted me when I returned home from work around 8 pm. “Guess what,” she cried. “I’ve put my boots under my bed so the leprechaun will leave me treats.” What ho? This was a new one in my world. “Someone at school told me about it. Isn’t that great?”

I hesitated just a moment before replying, “Yes, how fun is that?” I was feeling for the hard working leprechaun who had so much to do and might not have enough treats in his coffers to fill the boots of so many children. Tall boots to fill, that.

She went to bed happily while I considered the options.

There were no more outings scheduled for the evening and I scanned our cabinets. We often bake and have homemade cookies around, but not then. I found an item that I have not bought before or since: Drake’s coffee cake packages. There was one left and I snuck it into Kate’s boot, lest the leprechaun suffer some untoward delay. And then I did something completely uncharacteristic of me. I left the empty box in the cupboard.

I am a dedicated and prompt recycler. When a box of something is finished, I crush and add to the recycle bin. Nothing lingers unattended in the kitchen, as the clutter which is already loud threatens to overtake if I don’t feed the recycle bins promptly. I’m not sure exactly what my thinking was here.

The next morning Kate arose and came downstairs holding the coffee cakes triumphantly. “Look what the leprechaun brought, “ she crowed. A cloud passed over her face and she walked very deliberately to the cabinet and stretched onto her tippytoes to reach the fated box. I cringed as she opened it and looked inside.

“The leprechaun took our Drake’s cakes.” she sounded perplexed. I opened my mouth to protest and offer an alternative solution…(Dad ate it last night…the dog pushed a chair over and made his way into the box…a hardy herd of ants carted it off together..) An instant later her face brightened and she declared, “What a smart leprechaun he is. He had not been expecting me to put my boots under the bed. It’s the first time I ever did that so he just used what was here.” Satisfied and pleased, she bounced off to get ready for school.

I sat in awe of her creativity and conviction in her beliefs. Once again I am shown how we create our reality. Certainly I was relieved that it met her expectations. I was grateful that she orchestrated this whole event and established a new tradition. I will be eager to see what lands in my boots on March 17.

Valentine Presence

February 26, 2016

We moved our daughter into an apartment yesterday. She’s 25, and excited about this move, ready to get to know a new town that has to this point been a place she has visited a bunch of times. The apartment is perfectly situated near the center of town, with easy access to the highway as well as public transportation. It’s spacious and light, and she will share it with two other friends.

None of this sounds so unusual. What is unusual is the proximity to our town. She will be less than a half hour away. While she has been living at home since Christmas, before that she had been in Spain for three months, and apart from a summer in New Haven, had been in Colombia for a year and half prior to that. All of this followed college, which was three hours away, so a town as close as thirty minutes presents unlimited possibilities.

She’s close enough to meet for coffee, to shop for work clothes, have dinner together at either of our houses. She can stay with our still-getting-used-to-Massachusetts dogs, go to movies, walk through the woods with or without pups— all things that we usually do when she is around, but at least for the next few months, we don’t have to be concerned with cramming them all in during the week or two that she usually lands at home.

I am well aware that she is applying jobs that may or may not be in this area. One cannot determine where teaching posts will be for Spanish in the way that she is excited about teaching, and I know that the right job is more important than where it is, at least at this point. We’ll see what pops open, where actual offers come from, and how the factors shake down.

I realize that with her travel in places that have often been remote and not easy to contact or access, or that have involved some level of risk, that I have held myself just a little in check. While my love for her is constant, and our communication is positive, I have been unable to count on more than sporadic conversations and visits only a few times a year. It is always possible to maintain the thread of a relationship, but it takes more concerted effort when someone is hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. Even with the multiple options available today, technology will never replace proximity. And who would want it to?

At least from here, it seems that her next job will be Stateside, so although I cannot count on meeting at the bakery around the corner from her new apartment, I can at least be assured of reliable internet, and a flight of less than six hours, as well as a few months of this nearby arrangement while she sorts it out. Seems like as good a Valentine’s gift as I can conceive of. I’ll gladly take it.

A Young Life Lost to Drugs

August 20, 2015

We had last seen Garrett about ten years ago. He was a big, strong boy of 12 with lots of energy. My husband remembers that he swam across Long Lake, our local swimming hole around 2/3 the size of Walden Pond. The four kids in his family were members of the swim team which seemed a good fit for them. I remember thinking how these were the right parents to have four children. Organized, structured and loving, they channeled the kids’ excess zest into positive places. It took a lot of focus, and they were up to the task. Both of them came from big families, and their constellation of four was welcome.

Although we hadn’t seen the whole family recently, Bret, my husband’s close high school buddy, came to visit a few times. He told us that Garrett had had some trouble with drugs. We knew he had done some jail time, and had also taken the fall for a friend. He had been clean for 2 1/2 years when he evidently felt a pull for the drug, and took too much. Which killed him. We are stunned to think about a world without him in it.

We didn’t learn about his death until recently, and I’m not sure, even, exactly when it occurred. Bret had not had the space to make the call, and so we found out when my husband happened to pick up the phone to check in with his buddy. There are no words to adequately express the depth of sadness of a loss of this magnitude. Nothing can bring a child back, or a brother. Nothing can rewind the clock, or create another chance. The pain of losing such a young person runs deep; there is not a way to short cut the process of grief, or move through the dense brush of unreality and surrealism.

The family must rearrange themselves, reorient to a new way of living, of including their absent family member in ways that feel possible, doable, without feeling cloying, distantly unreal or false. They bore witness to his difficulties, and on some level may have known that with the way he behaved in the world, his largeness could lead to dramatic events, including the loss of his life. He was not a person of moderation by nature, so anything done on a big scale could tip events in unintended ways. But the searing truth of his loss must also stop them short, bring them to their knees at unexpected times. I feel the jolt.

Our hearts reach out to them. I know that their large families enfolded them, and held them close. We wish to do the same, sending them the wind to lift their wings as they navigate this unknown and frightening territory, whose landscape is so unfamiliar and without softness. The unpredictability of negotiating grief is always surprising, tipping our stable carts when we least expect it, upending the calmest of days and catapulting us into a whirlpool of transition. It takes time to resettle into a new rhythm, to reach a new equilibrium, and to recognize it when it happens. I wish for them to stay connected with each other, to allow their grief to join and not separate them, which sometimes happens. And I hope that they are not blaming themselves, or each other, as there is no winning from this. If love alone could give them solace, they would be consoled. If support could transform their sadness, they would no longer be sad. They must each make their own journey through the mire and choose what helps them. We can listen for the call, and be there with hearts and arms open.

A Mutter’s Day Tail

May 9, 2015

My husband and I have lived with dogs for 27 years together and both of us had dogs as kids. But all that did not prepare us for the adoption process with Livvie, our newly rescued pup. And I feel like a new mom in very foreign territory.

I have only lived with rescue dogs, but none of them remotely like Olivia. I had been thinking that autumn would be a good time to welcome a new critter into our home after our menagerie had dwindled to zero in March. But my husband sent a link to a site with an adorable dog for adoption. It turned out that she was spoken for by the next day, but I was already in search mode and my heart went out to Olivia’s sweet furry yellow face with the deep brown eyes and little whiskers that characterize some type of Terrier background.

So commenced the process of application, references, plus veterinary reference, and a home check. At first we were a bit indignant, ignorant as we were about the new standard screening through the Adopt-a-Pet website. It all checked out and two weeks later I brought shy Livvie into our home. We expected shy, but we were not prepared for the level of patience that will clearly be required for her to become comfortable with us, and trust that after the many transitions that started in Louisiana, that she can stay here without having to compete for food or attention.

Where Charlie, our last rescue from Puerto Rico marked every room and pinged off the walls at first, Livvie has barely ventured out of her crate-even to eat. She started to eat and drink after a day, if it was brought directly to her, but will not seek it out. She quakes when we go outside and freezes, never mind considering this a good place to play or pee.

It’s early days, less than a week, and people remind us to give her a couple of weeks to really see who she is.

I am remembering the importance of patience and this being her schedule and timeframe, not my wish for how it should be. She will need enough structure without there being too much, and consistent loving through it all. We will learn from having her in our family as she will learn from being here. As with children, we set the tone, and she will take her cues from us. Her past four and half months will affect how readily she can move past the multiple transitions and mistrust that this is just another stop along the way, or worse, that we could visit some kind of harm on her. We must pay attention to what the new baby is telling us, as we make clear what she can expect from us, and how predictable we are. We could not have anticipated our pup would be this kind of baby, but here she is, and it is certainly not her fault that we didn’t know who she would be. No parent can know what a child will be like.

We will all adjust together, taking one step at a time, appreciating each small progression, knowing that there is no hurrying it, and no need to rush.

This Mother’s Day, feeling so connected with my own two daughters who are exploring other parts of the world, I will hold our furry new pooch on my lap, and welcome another journey that is ours to navigate, with all its unknowns, hopes, unpredictability and time to evolve. I am ready.

Launching of students and parents..

September 14, 2014

I had thought that the last two years would protect me from the feelings that arise when your youngest child heads off to college. She had spent half of the first year following high school living at home, working two jobs in order to pay her way to a South African volunteer position in an elementary school. After those four months, she travelled through Europe for several weeks with a friend she had met while volunteering.

There were long stretches when we did not hear from her, and I could see the fabric of her independence taking shape, along with a thirst to explore the world, get to know people of different cultures. I trained myself to understand silences as time when she was taking a jaunt outside the city, or within. I learned that the sweep of parental concern is not bound by time zones or country borders. Her return from this trip produced a desire to attend college in “a more central location,” which to her, in an English speaking place, meant Scotland. We had laughed. Central? Central how? But having friends now scattered around Europe, and having experienced the bus-like ease of air travel in Europe, Scotland now felt like an appealing base from which to study.

This meant reapplication to University and a cashing in of her already deferred acceptance to Connecticut College. It also meant a second year off because Scottish universities demand SAT subject tests which Conn had not. Working half the year on Martha’s Vineyard to fund her travels in the spring to New Zealand determined that being a couple of hours away on an island off the coast of Cape Cod felt close by, and being across the world and eighteen hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time was another lesson in establishing trust that she could both support and take care of herself.

Given all this training, university in Scotland seemed like it should feel nearby —almost like being in California, but the other direction, right?

We created a family vacation just before the start of Freshers week, with our older daughter flying up from Colombia to meet us. Together we delighted in the the Edinburgh Castle, the dramatic Scottish highlands and historic St. Andrews before move-in day, when we all trooped up the four flights of stairs to Kate’s new flat. We busied ourselves with procuring necessities while she unpacked: pillow, laundry basket, a few plates and cups, and met her friend, now a senior at Edinburgh, for dinner. More walking and then it was time for us to get back to our bed and breakfast across town.

Tears leaked from my eyes as we hugged first one daughter and then the other. Gale was returning for several more months in Columbia, at least, and Kate was beginning four years in Scotland. It is not fear; it is not worry. They have established their capability and delight in being where they are and proven how resourceful they can be in challenging times. We can connect by phone, take advantage of Skype and What’s App when the opportunities arise, and service exists. Email and Facebook are available points of connection.

It is the being together, the laughs that come from speaking at the same time, the connections from looking at the same piece of art, tasting the same new foods that I will miss. We will always have visits, and I will love them wherever and whenever they happen. I am so proud of the women they are and continue to evolve into, but two years of having our daughters in far away places did not inoculate me from the wistfulness of knowing that we are now fully a home base for our girls, but that they now have homes in places we can only take planes to visit.

Got My Bag, I Got My Reservation

February 5, 2014

My husband remembers that the boots are to prevent snake bites. I recall that the boots are for mud. We ask my daughter who confirms that we are both right. How convenient of me to forget that little detail about the snakes. If you screen out the risks and the scary bits, what you are left with is adventure. It’s a tricky business sometimes, maintaining this perspective, but most of the time that’s just the way it is.

 

As I make preparations for my trip, my daughter informs me that there is a pair of boots for me. They might be a little big, but that shouldn’t matter too much. I am bringing extra pairs of tall socks for her anyway, so I’ll be all set.

 

I call the credit card company to let them know the dates that I will be in Colombia. The customer service rep asks for various pieces of information, and makes conversation about the reason for my travel. I begin to explain that my daughter is living for a year in a community that is a 45 minute open air jeep ride and a two hour walk in the mud from the nearest town with a store. I can hear a shift in the rep’s voice as she responds. “Wow.” There is a moment of silence. I go on. “Yeah, it’s pretty far out there. They’re just used to it, though. They make that trip every week because they don’t have a refrigerator.” I hear her attentive silence, so I continue.

“She’s there with two other (essentially) volunteers (they do get a tiny stipend) living in the community and accompanying the people there to other communities or wherever they need to go to make sure they are safe. It’s just by their presence that they do this, not by any other means.”

 

“You’re blowing my mind,” say the rep. “I’m living in my comfy home and don’t think twice about running down the street to get food or anything for my one year old daughter. Wow. WOW,” she repeats.

 

I realize that I have begun to take this situation for granted. It is just the way it is. Even though internet contact is sporadic, or nil when she is away on accompaniments, we have recently invested in an international calling card, and when there is service, we can hear her perfectly well. In the few pictures that have been posted she looks delighted, at ease, radiant. In one, she is holding an enormous leaf over her head like an umbrella which is exactly what she used it for when a sudden rain cloud burst on their travels.

 

“She has called it paradise.” I inform the rep. “She says it’s lush lush lush with lots of delicious unidentifiable fruits and great food because she’s living amongst farmers.” In our companionable silence I sense we are both thinking about how relative each of our perspectives is. Just our conversation about this has shifted our transaction from one of routine business into something more meaningful that we will each continue to ponder. I imagine telling her colleagues, or perhaps her husband or friend about our conversation…”So I was working with this lady on the phone today and she’s going to visit her daughter who’s living in a Colombian village that’s three hours from the nearest store. Her daughter’s there for a year but these people live like that!” I also wonder if it makes her day dream about her relationship with her one year old, wondering where in the world she might be when she is 23.

 

I think about the level of inter dependence that must exist between the people there. With it not being possible to pop off for some eggs or flour they must regularly need to borrow food and supplies. My daughter has talked about how people drop by, and I am bringing markers for the kids when they come to draw in their tiny home. She describes her triumph last week in figuring out how to bake a chocolate cake using someone’s combination gas and wood stove.

 

I am eager to be there with her, to see the countryside, meet the people, the cow who hangs out in their yard, test out my rusty Spanish, and drink in a new part of the world.

 

Defining Colombia

December 4, 2013

We learned more about where, exactly, in Colombia our 23 year old daughter Gale is, and how she got there. What was first billed as a 12-16 hour bus ride is actually an 11 hour bus ride followed by a seven hour bus ride, followed by a 45 minute open air jeep ride followed by a two hour walk through the mud to get to the village where she is now living. I think that qualifies under the heading “remote.”

 

Along with two other people who work for Fellowship of Reconciliation (whose name will be changing to something like Pathways for Peace,) she will live in this intentionally peaceful community, and will act as the eyes and ears of the world. In this remote area where many people have been displaced, the people working for the almost 100 year old FOR stand as a reminder that although remote, they are connected to the outside world, and are there to note when there is not fair treatment of all. Sometimes they are asked to accompany Colombians to the hospital, or to another community. They must evaluate the request, and the safety at that time.

 

Gale’s first bus ride out of Bogota was overnight, and after the second ride she spent the night in the city of Apartado, having a meeting before going forward with the jeep and walk. If I think about it too much, it makes my head hurt a little (or is it my heart?) so I focus on the fact that she has emailed a few times since her arrival.

 

As fate would serve it up, her first day there was Thanksgiving, when she had originally expected to still be in Bogota, putting together a meal with the fixins with her colleagues there. Instead, she made arroz con leche (a rice pudding variant) and lit tiny birthday candles to acknowledge Hanukkah.

 

She called us via Google chat on Thanksgiving, and again as timing would set it up, my husband was getting the bird to the table as I pulled out tray after casserole of harvested earthly heaven from our oven. Torn, I ran back and forth between the office where I could listen in as she and Kate, our daughter at home for a few days, exchanged updates, and then back to the kitchen. As we corralled our group of 16 to the table, I abandoned hope of meaningful conversation with our Colombian landed daughter and consoled myself with the notion of a longer conversation later in the weekend.

 

Knowing that she called was at once a reassurance that we could be in touch that quickly, and also a reminder that she is not here at this moment, that she is not just a text away.

 

I try not to think of it too much; I cannot focus on the distance, but must instead consider the closeness with which I can connect to her tone, her words, her intent behind a few lines of text on the screen.

 

“This will be life changing,” our guests comment. I agree, although I cannot know how, or where it will lead her. I don’t want to know now. Part of the deliciousness, if I can stand it, is in watching it unfold. She is reassuring about the security measures that FOR is taking when they decide whether to honor a request for accompaniment. I still don’t know the details of how they obtain their information, and find myself once again at a crossroad, trying to highlight the reassurance of precaution rather than the fact that there is need for it.

 

I feel similarly about this as I do the fact that the hospitals are very reputable. Although I’m glad to hear that, and the organization jokes about how past volunteers have put that to the test with good result, I do not want to learn through experience that their perspective is valid. I’m quite willing to take their word, and have Gale’s visits there be informational only. I consider the travel there, and choose to feel good about my daughter’s good health and strength.

 

Gale has wondered how soon to get pictures out as part of her post and I realize I am hungry for them. If i can imagine her there, I am able to be with her in my mind’s eye. Even before knowing who is welcoming, who is shy, what she means when she emphasizes that it is HUMID, although not unpleasantly hot, if I can get a visual, I can start to fill in some of the blanks. of course, ti will remain to be seen whether I create a separate reality, or how close I can come to understanding her experience. Time to dust off my high school Spanish. I have learned that with one stop, I can get to Medallin in eight hours. Then it’s just the seven hour bus ride, open air jeep and a hop skip in my mud boots to see her new life.

 

To Colombia with Love

November 20, 2013

I have long known that fear can worm its way into an equation, stopping a story at the point at which it enters, thereby derailing or hijacking an otherwise perfectly lovely time. The trick is to see past it or through it, so that it does not get in the way. Fear has its place, and is vital for self preservation at times, but I generally do not cotton with the amount of anxiety it generates and selfishly, I do not like for it to get in the way of my own fun or that of others. I therefore have become quite skilled at finding effective ways to squeeze uncomfortable fearful feelings into smaller packages, leaving more room for laughter, adventure, and love.

 

When our 23 year old daughter made clear that she was pursuing a position in Colombia with an organization that actively supports peace in areas of conflict, I’m sure my eyes grew wide and my pulse quickened. The Colombia I grew up hearing about sported drug cartels and violence and unpredictability. Gale’s reassurance about the changes did little to erase the images that had taken root when I was her age. Reading on the website made clear that this is an established organization with connections to better known groups (like the UN) and also that violence was more than a decade in the past. I reminded myself that a decade to me reads like “last week” whereas to her it is long ago, back when she was a young teenager of 13.

 

I hear her excitement about how impressive the week of training was, how well thought out, executed and how helpful. I listen to the security measures that are now in place, and to her eagerness to be speaking Spanish all the time.

 

I consider the amount of walking she will be doing (45 minutes to the nearest town for things like groceries), her skill at mediation, even though that is not her role, and how much she is nurtured by being in a new culture.

 

I reflect on our five mile walks together over these past couple of months, and understand again how important this transition is for her. Having completed an excruciating year of graduate school, she was thirsty for something non-academic. Despite her passion for teaching, she could not settle into a position just yet, not with the world beckoning, inviting her to connect to people in a different way.

 

Residing in an intentionally peaceful community, her presence is a reminder of all of their connections to the outside world. Although she will be living in the northwestern corner of the country (a 12-16 hour bus ride from Bogota), she will have access to cell phones and internet, (when they are working), and tee shirts that bear the name of their organization.

 

When she walks with community members to their negotiations with government or other groups, or to the hospital, she will be getting to know them, and they will be learning about her. She will see what they eat and how to prepare it, what their favorite dances are, and she will teach them songs to sing as a round and show them photos of where she lives here in the States. She will learn how to make puns in Spanish and how to spot a pig in the path when it is belly deep in mud and the same color. She will find out what is important to these people, what their dreams look like, who is related to whom.

 

Spending a year in this community she will become a part of it, and they of her. I know that she lives to immerse herself in a situation and live it fully, from the inside out. We will look for her posts, her photographs and stories, what she is finding challenging and what surprises her most.

 

And I? I will be starting my internet search for affordable flights to Bogota, and quicker-than-a-16-hour bus routes to her village from there. I can hardly wait.

 

The Eye of the Storm

August 3, 2013

I was attending a meeting at The Healing Garden the other week when people’s phones started jangling, indicating a tornado watch and instructing us to seek shelter.

We conferred with one another, learned that there was a basement with chairs, and decided to continue our meeting there. We set up chairs as closely gathered as possible, though scattered around folded up tables, pieces of equipment and poles.

 

We had arrived at the part of the meeting when one woman was going to demonstrate a meditative One Blessing. She found a working outlet, and we were soon listening to soothing, quiet music. For the next 20 minutes this is all we heard as the presenter approached each person in turn and quietly transferred her positive focus and feeling.

 

This was meant to be an oasis of calm in our day, a pause, highlighted by the possibility of a literal whirlwind up above to accompany the torrential rain the storm was bringing.

 

The layers of metaphor circled outward. I had already dubbed this part of my summer the Eye of the Storm. This was primarily a reference to my two daughters and the place in their lives. Right at that moment, they were counselors at their respective camps, a known quantity with positive associations. I could see them in their roles through mid-August.

 

After that, it was not clear what country either of them would inhabit. Kate had decided to apply to colleges in Scotland, willing to turn in her acceptance at ConnecticutCollege in favor of studying abroad for four years. We were waiting on the one college whose test entry requirements did not immediately exclude her from consideration. If accepted at St. Andrews for the fall, we would start shopping immediately upon her return from camp. If not, she would need to decide what her next year will look like, probably from the comfort of the living room.

 

Gale, now graduated with her master in teaching, was applying to jobs in Mexico and Columbia. Interesting posts, one in an Arts and Literacy program, one at an NGO that supports peace in Columbia. If neither of these come through she, too, will likely start constructing her next year from the cozy couch.

 

I’m trying to keep my anxiety at a manageable roar. These are not my decisions; they are not my plans, but I am affected at every turn. The planner in me is screaming for resolution and a desire to KNOW where my children will be. How did we get here, and what part did I play?

 

They were not supposed to be gallivanting across the globe, were they? I was recounting my tale to a friend who I have known since before my marriage. She laughed. Laughed, I tell you!! “Sounds like Meg squared or Meg cubed,” she joked. Hmph. I supposed that was true. Travel was at the top of my list of things to do for a number of years. It was where my money went for years after college. I understood the need to see other places and experience other cultures. But both daughters were taking this theme further than I. Longer amounts of time, farther away, more frequent. Hey! I like having them where we can get together, share a meal, have a laugh, listen to music. This is much more challenging when they are 3,500 miles away.

 

Yes, there is Skype and Facebook, Internet, blah blah. That does not replace seeing their faces in person, a real hug or baking together.

 

Evidently, I want it all. I want them to have the freedom to roam, to travel, and absorb all that they seek. And I want them close enough to wrap my arms around. Looks like my airline bill is going up soon.

 

I returned to the room where we were surfacing from our meditation. People started venturing outside to get to the next event on their calendars. I found a message expressing concern about the rain and highway conditions and decided to go home instead of returning to work 25 miles away. There will be time to explore and learn about the changes ahead. For now, I can sit in the calm and wait.

Taking the Leap…

February 8, 2013

“Letting go” is a concept that takes different forms for different people or even for the same person at different times in one’s life. Some are universally understood, at least in terms of concept: the first time your child goes to school, or away to camp or college, or the first solo drive in the family car (for oneself or one’s child) are all classic examples.

 

I have realized that one of the biggest challenges for me is when my children are traveling very far from home and I don’t have any way to reach them. Perhaps I’m spoiled by the accessibility that texting and emailing provide. There is at least a superficial sense of being able to be in touch, if not to guide, or protect.

 

When our older daughter spent a term in Chileand Argentina, most of the time we knew where she was staying, and how to contact her. There was the family she was staying with, and the directors of the program. We didn’t have to be in touch that frequently; knowing that I could should I chose to made all the difference. And I could send an email whenever I felt the need to let her know she was in my thoughts.

 

Then there was the week where she was traveling and doing a home stay where there was no internet available or cell phone service. It was like she had entered a telecommunication tunnel from which she would emerge the following week. At least I knew the parameters of the time and when to expect contact. There were only a few difficult moments when I had to trust the gods of travel and it was only later that I learned how delicate a political situation she had been thrown into. However inadvertently, I was angry about the unnecessary risk that she endured, even though she herself was not as upset and managed quite gracefully in her nearly fluent Spanish.

 

This time, with our younger daughter inSouth Africa, we did not have the name of a contact person, nor was she traveling with any kind of group. So, although we received an email upon her arrival inCape Town, we began to get uneasy when we did not hear anything for more than a week. We knew that she had moved from the hostel she initially landed in to the Volunteer House where she would spend three months. After eight days we left a message at the Volunteer House.

 

It was another two days before we received a cheerful email from her. She apologized for being out of touch; a four day tour had come together very quickly and she had no internet during that time. Then she listed the events of the past week: she had taught a kindergarten class with another volunteer to kids who spoke no English, she had been hugged by, and ridden an elephant, been hugged by and ridden an ostrich, bungee jumped off the highest commercial bungee jumping bridge in the world (which we later figured out was 700 feet), climbed through a cave that had a passage so narrow it was difficult to squeeze through, and met 15 volunteers from various parts of the world and traveled with them on a little bus to these places.

 

Well all right then. That pretty much took my breath away, and along with it, any lingering concern or nagging worry. Well, maybe not  all of my concern, but she was clearly in charge and loving where she was and what she was doing. If she could make a leap of 700 feet, surely I could manage a small jump of faith to remain confident that the distance was just a state of mind, and we could be as close as our hearts would allow. I would just have to talk myself through any questions that arose, and consider it my personal form of letting go.

 

On to the next tale!

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