Hearts are breaking in Berlin even as ours are soaring in Wyoming. Such are the mixed emotions that come with the end of our daughter Danielle’s school year in Germany.
The months have flown by, now that I look back at them — somewhat lonely months for us but for Danielle months filled with a new experience around every corner, many challenges but also many thrills.
And now she’s coming home.
Is it possible to be happy and sad all at once? As I pen these words, there are about 24 hours left in Danielle’s “year” in Berlin, and by the time you read this column, probably Thursday, Dani is winging her way home to America.
Oddly, I have mixed emotions about this week. I am thrilled beyond words to be reunited with my daughter, but my heart also aches for her as her grand adventure in Europe comes to a close. She has been having a rather sad week, and I feel for her, knowing how much this year has meant to her, remembering how long she hoped, planned and yearned for her year in Berlin and realizing how much she will miss her European families and friends, especially her sisters, but also their loving parents, who took Dani under their wings, served as her mom and dad and provided a true home away from home.
There will be an empty spot at the dinner table in Berlin this evening, and indeed, it’s rough on her German sister Maria, who began the day Wednesday by writing on Facebook: “No No No No No! ??I’m really not realizing it yet…Still hoping it’s not gonna happen. ?STAAAAY!”
We have luckily been able to talk to Danielle almost weekly via Skype, and have watched her grow and mature. She is wiser, more worldly, nearly fluent in German and able to cruise around a European city of 3 million people, and she is filled with memories of good friends, new cities, fascinating countries, serious studying, museums, historic sites, restaurants, some pubs and clubs, and her loving German sisters and their families.
I was having lunch with good friends Eric and Linda Adams of Basin the other day, and we were sharing the experiences of Dani and their son Jeb, who went out to see the world and now lives in Macedonia with his wife and kids. I said to Eric as we parted, “We gave our kids wings, and they used them.”
But I think Danielle is ready to come home, too. She misses Wyoming, her family, her friends, her hometown, her country and her university in Laramie. The first few days will be a culture shock for her – She’ll have to learn to drive again! — but she will quickly adjust. She knows it is time to get on with life, realizing that leaving Berlin, her dream year over, is not the end, but a beginning.
She will return Friday and go on to even bigger and better things, and in the meantime we will cherish every moment with her – long talks in the backyard as the sun sets, hikes in Big Horn Canyon and football games and after-game hot wings in Laramie.
Yes, this week is bittersweet, but we can’t wait for the hug. Welcome home, Dani! We are so very proud of you.