17 Days. That's all that remains until my firstborn's graduation. I am very proud of her and so excited to see where life will lead this girl. It has been such a joy to raise this beautiful soul!
I remember when we first came to Africa. Abby was in the 7th grade and college seemed so close and yet so far away. Even at that point, we needed to think through how we would pace our Stateside visit times so that we could be sure that we could have time to get each of our graduates back to the States for university. The thought was terrifying to me and I remember chatting with another mom who had already settled three in herself. She told me that with each of her children, there had been a certainty at the beginning of high school that this child was THE child who was not going to be ready on time. Each child was the child who would not be ready to live on one side of the ocean with mom and dad on the other. Then, she said, over the course of those 4 years, it always happened. Each child would mature in big and little ways, and by the end of their senior year she would know they were ready.
Well, here we are, at the end of senior year and I can say with the utmost confidence she is ready. I know it is time for her to fly. All of those stupid Cracker Barrel plaques about giving them roots and wings are being lived out in my world right now. The girl has roots, now it's time to let her use those wings. She's ready.
I'm not. I mean I am, but I'm not. I have these moments where I can't wait to see where she'll go, how she'll impact others, and how she'll grow and mature as the years go by. But I'm not ready to be separated from her. God has given me the privilege of parenting this beautiful soul and she is a really great kid. I honestly think that even if she wasn't mine, I'd think she is something special. I enjoy spending time with her, hearing her stories, listening to her perspective, and laughing with her about all sorts of crazy things. She brings such light into my world.
I know that our relationship will continue. I will always be her mom. She will always be my Abigail Grace. There will still be stories and laughs shared together. It will be exciting to see her grow and branch out and there will be new things to enjoy. I realize this isn't a funeral, it's a graduation. But, the dailyness will be different. The reality is that the calling we've chosen to obey will separate us for many birthdays and holidays and everydays. That is the part that I struggle with.
Just a few weeks ago we were at the hospital where we volunteer each week and she was sitting on the floor, in the middle of a pile of children. She was laughing and smiling as she does while we are there, and she called out to me, "Mom, Mom, look at him, isn't he so cute?" as she gestured toward a child who was completely covered in burn scars. He was giggling and grinning as she tickled him. And, in that moment, I couldn't breathe. I just was overwhelmed with sorrow. I choked out a small response of agreement and walked away as the tears just flowed and I whispered to the Lord about how I just wasn't sure I could do it. I just was not sure that I was going to be able to board a plane and put an ocean between us.
That moment passed and since then, others have come and gone. I know others will come. The reality and the grief ebbs and flows. I know that God's grace is sufficient. It has been. It is. It will be.
Sunrise at the dunes which was Abby's last wish list "to-do" before departing Niger.