We were on our way to the airport. It was only 4:15 am. I had a cup of coffee in my right hand, the steering wheel in my left and my eyes fixed on the road – trying hard not to look at Anna. I’d promised her that I won’t cry until she was safely through security.
“How about socks? Do you have the right kind of socks?”
“A hat Anna. You’ll need a hat!”
“Mom, I packed everything on the list. Don’t worry.”
Most parents would have checked their daughter’s suitcase before sending her off for two weeks in the woods. Many moms would have even done the packing for their child. I’d never seen the packing list sent from Outward Bound or glanced at what Anna had in that red nylon duffle bag. I’ve been rather spoiled as a mother. Anna doesn’t require much hand holding. There’s never been a need to go through her homework or her suitcases.
Anna was born strong and independent, but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that our family’s circumstances have strengthened Anna’s self-reliance. Independence has been a necessity for Anna. She was only six-years-old when Jack got diagnosed and her family scattered. Although we held to our promise that either Dan or I would always be home at night for her while Jack was in the hospital, we were so focused on what was happening in room 505 at Columbia Presbyterian, that Anna didn’t get much of our attention. Thanks to friends and family, she was surrounded by love and support that spring and summer, but she learned that she needed to take care of plenty on her own.
Now that we’ve taped our family back together, we’re so accustomed to her independence that Dan and I assume that Anna will manage the school/packing stuff without much help. And, she does.
Her room is nestled on the third floor of our house. When I climb those steep stairs to check on her, I’m always amazed at her nest. Like all teenagers, she has trouble finding the laundry basket and her bed never seems to be made, but her closet is organized and she has a large whiteboard calendar hanging above her desk where she lists everything she needs to accomplish for the next month. Her grades are a reflection of her hard work and organizational skills. Bioengineering is her goal, and I imagine that’s where she is headed. She’s the smartest person I know.
Although Anna doesn’t require much in the way of homework or packing help, she gets more than her share of love and attention at home. Even her silent brother gives her constant feedback (with those magical brown eyes and wide smile) about her school endeavors and successes on the lacrosse field. And, we all have opinions and advice when it comes to her social life — 11:00 pm is late enough and shirts should not be smaller than bathing suits.
Outward Bound sent us a note yesterday afternoon informing us that all of the campers had arrived safely. I smiled, when I noticed there was no mention of any missing necessities in our daughter’s luggage. As much as I miss our Banana, I’m certain that she woke up this morning with a smile on her face, ready to face the challenges of the next two weeks. Thank goodness she remembered the hat.
Anna sent me this before she hit the trail and her phone went into quarantine.