Early this morning, we said good-bye to Chanju as she boarded a plane with her mother for a trip to the east coast before returning to Korea. One hug wasn't enough. With promises to see each other again, I let her go and watched her through tear-filled eyes until she walked through security. We stayed until I couldn't see her any more.
Her mom wrote me a note, which means the world to me. You see, I wrote a similar note to Gulcin last year when we brought Annie back home from Turkey. Being a host mom has changed me. Each time my husband and I agreed to take in and love another child from another country, we were not always sure who was going to walk through our door. It isn't always easy, but it's worth every bit of effort.
My heart has grown bigger and my perspective on life and cultures has been enriched. Each young woman who began her life with us as an exchange students, left our home as a member of our family. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
So, as I sit in my very quiet home, something (and someone) seems to be missing. We will soon be back to our busy lives and a new normal will come to be. But for right now, I'm going to miss hearing Chanju come through the door with her cheerful "hi," or checking off license plates from different states, or going to Rita's Italian Ice (I found out I love Orange Gelati). For right now, I'm going to savor the good memories and be thankful for one more opportunity to be a mom.
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