Jackie VanCampen
Posted December 12, 2011 by Jackie VanCampen in Family & Home, blended family
At 8:45 tonight I kissed and hugged my thirteen-year-old good bye as she walked through the security gate at LAX. My daughter Marla just took a quantum leap for what’s possible in her life. She is moving to Brazil with her dad and grandma for, at least right now, two years.

Up until the this point, I have been actually doing pretty good, considering I’m sending my daughter off to another country and won’t get to see her much when I’m used to seeing her every day. This weekend was rough. Friday I had a surprise “World of Possibilities” party, as I like to call it since it seems more joyous than Going Away party, and she was totally surprised. I had about 35 13/14 year olds. It was awesome and as we opened the door, all her friends threw confetti at her and shouted, “Surprise!!!!” Even though I did not get to see her expression, since all these kids pretty much swarmed her, she told me she almost had a heart attack! How’s that for excitement!

Yesterday must have been the hardest since I got to pack all her stuff, while she played with her friends all day and spent the night with her cousins. All I could think of was when I left Brazil to come back to America to live with my dad. I was nineteen years old. I remember the last few days all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and I think I barely spent any time with my mom. As I spent these last few days with Marla, I went back to that time 19 years ago, when I took the leap of faith to move here for a world of possibilities. Now as a mother I started wondering what my mom must have felt when I left or when I chose my friends over her. She never made me feel guilty about it just as I didn’t make Marla feel guilty about it, but I’m sure it hurt just as it hurt me. Not that she spent time with her friends, but that a piece of me was leaving, even though I know that this is going to be an amazing opportunity for her. I think in a way, this was an opportunity for me to heal whatever regrets I had about those years ago with my mom that I didn’t even know were there until this weekend; and as the anniversary of mom’s passing approaches tomorrow, I feel even more present to these feelings.

I was suppressing my emotions all day yesterday to the point where I yelled at my three-year-old for doing what three year olds do. I then realized that I had to connect to my heart and let my emotions flow. I hugged her as I cried and said sorry for yelling at her. I knew I had been pushing my emotions down and avoiding them at all costs. My chest started to hurt as I could feel my heart contracting. As I burst into tears I could feel my heart feeling more spacious and the sadness dissipating some. I felt released and light.

“Never mind I’ll find someone like you…” The radio was playing Adele as we got in the car to go to the airport. I started to cry since that’s one of Marla’s favorite songs. Then as we picked up a few of her friends to go with us, one of her friends, who wasn’t able to go with us, gave her a big hug. I completely broke down. I turned my face away so she wouldn’t see me sobbing, but it was impossible for her not to notice as I started sniffling and breathing with more intensity as I wiped my face over and over again. She held it together well. I hope she’s not learning to shove down her emotions…

I cried at least half way to the airport. I started to relate to the parents who send their kids away to college. You know they will be fine; you know you will see them again, but there’s an element of letting go that is quite challenging. It’s like a rite of passage into adulthood. They have been your child this whole time and then suddenly they are off on their own. It’s a feeling that only those who have experienced it can actually understand. It’s a desire to hold on and yet, there is a joy inside and excitement for what they will get to accomplish next. Although Marla is not there yet, if she does choose to stay the full two years her dad wants her to stay, she will be almost sixteen by the time she comes back. She will have grown so much and probably changed so much too. And then there’s the possibility she may really love her new life and choose to stay. One day at a time…

As we headed back home, my seven-year-old started to cry. She was sad to see her big sister leave. It also reminded me of my little brother. When I left Brazil he was two months shy of being five years old. I never really thought of what must have been like for him to have his big sister go. I wonder if he really ever understood why I was leaving. I wonder if he missed me as I see Jasmine missing Marla…

I see so many parallels between my life and Marla’s. I’m her twin as she likes to say. The difference now, however, is that when I left Brazil, it was more because my mom felt there were no opportunities for me there. The economy was terrible, there were no jobs, and she didn’t feel I had future that would really expand my life. With Marla, she has opportunities in both places and now she gets to go so she can experience her culture; become fluent in another language; expand her mind; and get to know her relatives better.

I wrote to her that home is where the heart is and she’s fortunate to have many places she can call home, and that this home is always open for her whenever she chooses to return.

I’m missing my big baby girl already and I know it will take some time to adjust; however, I’ll be plenty busy with my other two little ones and putting the finishing touches on my book which launches in March, which has been written to Marla.

This year has been quite the year with major events happening and I’m looking forward to an even greater 2012. More opportunities to travel to Brazil and beyond!
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