Monday, June 3, 2013

Tears and Joys

You may (or may not) have noticed my blogging vacuum the past couple of weeks.  There is always an excuse for that sort of thing, and this time is no different.
Remember last summer, when Katie (at the ripe old age of ten) went away to camp...
for a month?

Yeah, I blocked it out, too.

But my girl, she's gone and done it again.  I dropped her off to live with 300 of her best friends for 26 days (not that I'm counting) of good, clean fun with a huge dose of Jesus right in the middle of it all.

She has counted the minutes until camp's opening day since her arrival home last summer.  The anticipation has been palpable, and she was ready to go without looking back.

At least, until the family made her cry.

Friday night, at bedtime, we gathered to pray.  We circled our girl and began with the youngest, praying for safety, for fun, for us not to miss her too painfully much.  Mari began and made it through relatively smoothly.  Then Drew, praying sweetly for his big sis and holding it together until he said "amen."  Gracie, though, had been weepy for an hour already so when her turn came she couldn't talk past her tears.  She wept, and the sweet sadness of it destroyed this mama and I cried with her.  Katie started to cry, realizing just how hard this was for us all and battling guilt for being so excited.  Gracie continued to pray through sobs and then, out of the middle of the room, rose a sound I have never heard before.  A sound that nearly struck us all deaf.
Drew stood up and turned into his daddy, wailing AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS...

We all burst into uncontrollable laughter.  I'm talkin' tears mixed with snot, shaking and stomach-aching laughter.

He wailed and cried and we cried and laughed and it was just absurd.  Sweet, beautiful, sentimental, heart-felt, and absurd.

We hugged and prayed some more, and daddy took Drew to his bed (still wailing) and Katie melted into my arms.

"I'm going to miss you so much, Mom.  You are my best friend."

Words I have always hoped to hear from my daughter.

"You don't have to go, honey.  Remember this is what you wanted, we would never make you go."

But she DID want to go.  She was not having doubts about her decision to go, but that moment of separation, that moment when the last goodbye is being said and you know the next step is out the door is hard.  No matter how exciting what awaits may be, the moment of separation is always, always hard.

And let me tell you, if I didn't know she would have the time of her life and be forever glad that she had gone to camp there is NO STINKING WAY I could endure my baby girl being away for 26 days (not that I'm counting).

Saturday morning we got up at 5am, climbed into the car with my friend and fellow camp-mom, Margaret, and her daughter and drove the 2 hours to Mentone.  Katie was so excited she was about to jump out the window when she finally saw the sign.  We unloaded her stuff, got her cabin assignment, and I watched the sweet reunions of these girls who had forged friendships last summer.  I met her counselors, Peggy and Francis and let me tell you these girls are PRECIOUS.  I'm talking sweet as Southern tea, good godly girls, bubbly and fun and oh-my-word they had PINK twinkle lights strung in the rafters of the cabin!  I could have eaten them with a SPOON, y'all!  Katie obviously liked them immediately and, well, I decided I might have to adopt them when camp is over.

Do you think their parents would mind?

After the cabin was appropriately appointed and she had all her stuff organized just so, we walked across camp to the gym.  We visited with Phil and Marsha, who run the camp, and had cookies on the lawn and then it was time.
Time to go.
Time to trust.
Time to watch my baby walk away and spend 26 days (not that I'm counting) away from her mama.

It was time.

I hugged her hard.  I hugged her with all of me.
"You're not crying are you?"
"No," I lied, forcing the tears not to spill and the lump in my throat to settle back down.  "I just want to hug you hard because I won't get to do it for a month!"

I love you's were exchanged, a kiss on her beautiful forehead, and I was back in the car with my friend.  As we drove away, I saw my girl walk down the road with her counselor, Francis.  She was already in jeans and cowboy boots, headed toward the horses.  She was talking a mile a minute, gesturing with her hands and she saw me watching out of the rolled-down window.  I smiled and waved and willed the tears to stay back.  And I watched her walking, confident, not looking back.

And we drove away.

23 days until I hug my girl again.  Yeah, this mama is counting.

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